The talk offers a historical argument about the birth of militarism, which Bell defines as the imposition of military values, ideas, and practices on civilian society. Bell will argue that militarism as thus defined can only emerge in societies which acknowledge a distinction between “military” and “civilian” spheres, and that most early modern European societies did not. He will lay out several conditions which allowed for the emergence of the distinction, and suggest that in modern times these conditions were first fulfilled in France in the period of the French Revolution. The speaker will also trace the actual emergence of militarist ideas in France in its revolutionary decade, and how they subsequently spread beyond France.
David A. Bell is Sidney and Ruth Lapidus Professor in the Era of North Atlantic Revolutions in the Department of History at Princeton University. Educated at Harvard and Princeton, he is a specialist in the history of early modern France. His principal books are Lawyers and Citizens (1994), The Cult of the Nation in France (2001), and The First Total War (2007). He is the recipient of Guggenheim, Burkhardt, and NEH fellowships, and a winner of the Pinkney, Gershoy, and Gottschalk book prizes. He is a contributing editor to The New Republic magazine, a member of the editorial board of The American Historical Review, and a delegate for world history at Oxford University Press.
David Bell, Sidney and Ruth Lapidus Professor in the Era of North Atlantic Revolutions & professor of history, Princeton