Colin Jones

Visiting Professor, Department of History
Social Sciences Research Building 512


Social and cultural history of eighteenth-century France and the French Revolution; the history of medicine; the history of Paris; physiognomy and caricature


Colin Jones was educated at Oxford and is professor of history at Queen Mary University of London. Jones has also taught at Newcastle, Exeter, Warwick, Stanford, Renmin, and Paris VIII universities. He has held research positions at Princeton, the Collège de France, Columbia University's Paris campus, and the National Humanities Center, North Carolina. From 2012–15, Jones held a Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellowship on his current research project, which focuses on the day of 9 Thermidor when Robespierre was overthrown.



"The Overthrow of Maximilien Robespierre and the 'Indifference' of the People," American Historical Review 119, no. 3 (2014): 598–713.

The Smile Revolution in Eighteenth-Century Paris(Oxford, 2014)

Paris: Biography of a City (Penguin, 2006)

The Great Nation: France from Louis XV to Napoleon(Penguin, 2003)

The Age of Cultural Revolutions: Britain and France, 1750–1820 (Berkeley, 2002)

Madame de Pompadour: Images of a Mistress(National Gallery London, 2002)

(co-author) The Medical World of Early Modern France(Clarendon, 1997)


—Commander of the British Empire
—Past President, Royal Historical Society
—Fellow, British Academy
—Officier, l’Ordre des Palmes académiques
—Fellow, Learned Society of Wales
—Douglas Southall Freeman Professor of History (2014–15), University of Richmond

Recent Courses in RLL

FREN 22620/FREN 32620 Paris from Les Misérables to the Liberation, c. 1830–1950

HIST 22611, HIST 32611

Starting with the grim and dysfunctional city described in Victor Hugo's Les Misérables, the course will examine the history of Paris over the period in which it became viewed as the city par excellence of urban modernity through to the testing times of Nazi occupation and then liberation (c. 1830–1950). As well as focusing on architecture and the built environment, we will examine the political, social, and especially cultural history of the city. A particular feature of the course will be representations of the city—literary (Victor Hugo, Baudelaire, Zola, etc.) and artistic (impressionism and postimpressionism, cubism, surrealism). We will also examine the city's own view of itself through the prism of successive world fairs (expositions universelles).


Students taking FREN 22620/32620 must read French texts in French.

2019-2020 Spring

FREN 22619/FREN 32619 Paris and the French Revolution

HIST 22610, HIST 32610

The French Revolution is one of the defining moments of modern world history. The course will explore the mix of social, political and cultural factors which caused its outbreak in 1789 and go on to consider the overthrow of the Bourbon monarchy in 1792, the drift towards state-driven Terror in 1793-4 and the ensuing failure to achieve political stability down to the advent of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1799. We will view these epochal changes through the prism of France’s capital city. Paris shaped the Revolution in many ways, but the Revolution also reshaped Paris. The urbane city of European enlightenment acquired new identities as democratic hub from 1789 and as site of popular democracy after 1793-4. In addition, the Revolution also generated new ways of thinking about urban living and remodelling the city for the modern age. A wide range of primary sources will be used including visual sources (notably paintings, political cartoons and caricatures and maps).  


Students taking FREN 22619/32619 must read French texts in French.

2018-2019 Spring