Research Project

Andrea Vacchiano, History & Political Science

Advisor: Jennifer Jones, History

During the early stages of the French Revolution, a pamphlet war broke out between prominent British intellectuals about the legitimacy of the upheaval in France. This project analyzes Edmund Burke's criticisms of the French Revolution within the context of violence, drawing upon Burke's famous pamphlet, Reflections on the Revolution in France. Burke claimed that the Jacobin ideals of abstraction and the dismantling of traditional institutions posed a threat to the stability of society. This project also seeks to analyze the arguments of one of Burke's fiercest critics, Mary Wollstonecraft. While it may seem obvious to analyze these works within the context of violence, they are rarely so interpreted because they were penned before the Reign of Terror. Yet, I argue they represent anticipations of this period in the French Revolution. Ultimately, Burke and Wollstonecraft offer timeless, if opposing, arguments that can help shape our understanding of political violence today.