Lisa Jane Graham

Associate Professor and Department Chair
Office Telephone: 610 896 1073
email: lgraham@haverford.edu



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."


Interdisciplinary program in French Studies, specialized in French politics and society.


Magna cum laude in history; academic distinction in all subjects.

Research Interests

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 fields.

Teaching Interests

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 through problems.

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

-History 111a(02):Introduction to Western Civilization

-History 228b: The French Revolution

-History 229a: Gender and Power in Early Modern Europe

-History 354: Topics in Early Modern Europe

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."

Selected Publications

-If the 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."

-Visions and Revisions of Eighteenth-Century France (University Park: Penn State University Press, 1997)