Lisa Jane Graham
Associate Professor and Department Chair
Office Telephone: 610 896 1073
THE JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY Ph.D. 1993. M.A. 1989.
Four fields of specialization: modern French history, early modern French
history; early modern British history and political thought, modern German
and Austrian history.
Dissertation: "If the King Only Knew: Popular Politics and Absolutism
in the Reign of Louis XV, 1744-1774."
NEW YORK UNIVERSITY M.A. 1987.
Interdisciplinary program in French Studies, specialized in French politics
CORNELL UNIVERSITY A.B. 1985
Magna cum laude in history; academic distinction in all subjects.
My first book, If the King Only Knew:
Seditious Speech in the Reign of Louis XV, used police archives to
trace changing attitudes toward the king and royal government in mid-eighteenth
century France. Textbook accounts of the period emphasize the mounting
unpopularity of the king to explain the outbreak of a violent revolution
in 1789. These arguments, however, reflect the views of a small albeit
influential elite. By expanding the social base of the inquiry, the historian
discovers a more complex array of attitudes toward royal authority than
hatred of the king. As French men and women became more politically informed
and demanding, they remained steadfast in their loyalty to the king. I
argue that this tension between democratic impulses and royalist traditions
influenced the events of the French Revolution and the course of French
history in the modern period.
My current project, The Economy of Pleasure in Eighteenth-Century
France, grew out of earlier work. One of the recurrent motifs in popular
grievances about Louis XV was criticism of his mistresses and their perceived
influence on government appointments and policies. The royal mistresses
were emblematic of a broader cultural debate about the pursuit of pleasure
in eighteenth-century France that was enacted in the realms of law, literature,
and material exchange. The attack on pleasure reflected concern about
the erosion of traditional values and institutions in an era of dizzying
change and progress. It was articulated in a language of economy designed
to regulate behavior by conflating fiscal and sexual vocabularies. The
struggle between pleasure and economy casts new light on our understanding
of the Enlightenment and its impact on modern assumptions about gender,
desire, and political authority.
My research fuels my teaching at all levels of the curriculum and determines
my selection of topics for my advanced seminars. My work in archives enables
me to guide students effectively as they prepare research papers and senior
theses. Historical research and analysis provides intellectual discipline
and acumen useful for most careers in addition to graduate work in various
My teaching interests reflects my training
as a European historian and my belief that history is ultimately a discipline
of interpretation. I teach courses at all levels of the curriculum beginning
with History 111a Western
Civilization. The first part of a two semester survey seeks to introduce
students to the methods of the discipline by exposing them to primary
sources which are discussed in a seminar style classroom on a weekly basis.
Students acquire fundamental analytical and expository writing skills
as they discover the major institutions and arguments that have shaped
Western culture and its influence. The emphasis is less on memorizing
facts than on learning how to ask questions, work with evidence, and think
At the intermediate level, I offer a cluster of courses focusing
on European history in the transitional periods between 1550 and 1815.
These classes are all concerned with exploring the problem of how Europe
became modern and what that shift entailed. They emphasize the continuities
as well as the ruptures with earlier traditions. My classes integrate
textual primary sources (political treatises, drama, literature) with
visual and material culture. Each class offers students an opportunity
to do research on a source (textual or visual) of their choice. I offer
the following courses on a rotating basis:
-History 227a: Statecraft and
Selfhood in Early Modern Europe
to Western Civilization
-History 228b: The French Revolution
-History 229a: Gender and Power
in Early Modern Europe
-History 354: Topics in Early Modern
For the most advanced students, I teach
a 300-level seminar whose topic varies each year. My topics seminar introduce
students to broader theoretical and methodological discussions that influence
the way history is practiced as a discipline. They integrate scholars
from outside the discipline ranging from anthropology to literary criticism
and philosophy whose work is central to humanistic inquiry. All students
write a research paper that integrates theory with primary sources. These
papers often become the basis of a senior thesis. In 2002, the topic was
"The Culture of Resistance" (History 354b) and the projected
topic for 2004 is "Libertinage and Modernity."
King Only Knew: Seditious Speech in the Reign of Louis XV (Charlottesville:
University of Virginia Press, 2000).
Winner of the Walker Cowen Memorial Prize in recognition of an "outstanding
original work of scholarship in Eighteenth-Century Studies."
and Revisions of Eighteenth-Century France (University Park: Penn
State University Press, 1997)