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The French Revolution And Human Rights

613 words - 3 pages

This brief documentary history explores the issue of rights and citizenship that dominated Revolutionary France and helped define modern notions of civil rights. The rich selection of 38 primary documents - many never before published in English allows students to read and analyze, firsthand, the intense debates and subsequent legislation engendered by the French Revolution. An extensive introductory essay discusses the controversies over citizenship and rights current in Enlightenment and Revolutionary France.
Since the early eighteenth century and the beginning of the intellectual movement known as the Enlightenment, the issue of individual rights has dominated political thought in the ...view middle of the document...

Hunt’s compilation of the primary sources contained in this volume works very well with chapters 20 and 21 in The Making of the West. The focus on human rights is an instructive way to approach the broad implications, meaning, and legacy of the French Revolution. It also serves to remind students of important links between the past and the present. By situating the language of human rights within the specific context and circumstances of the late eighteenth century, Hunt encourages students to think critically about political theory and the new political culture created by the French Revolution.
The text itself is divided into three analytical areas that explore the definitions of rights before 1789, the definitions articulated by the declaration, and the debates generated by this important document. The arguments contained in the third section are organized thematically. These documents and Hunt’s introduction help students understand and analyze the debates themselves and their limitations,...

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