Jeffrey S. Ravel

Professor of History
Head, History Faculty


B.A. Colgate University, 1983
M.A. University of California, Berkeley, 1987
Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley, 1991

Jeffrey S. Ravel studies the history of French and European political culture from the mid-seventeenth through the mid-nineteenth centuries. He is the author of The Would-Be Commoner: A Tale of Deception, Murder, and Justice in Seventeenth Century France (Houghton Mifflin, 2008); and The Contested Parterre: Public Theater and French Political Culture, 1680-1791 (Cornell University Press, 1999).  He is currently working on a history of French playing cards and political regimes in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

He was a Co-Founder of CÉSAR, a web site devoted to the study of seventeenth and eighteenth-century French theater. Currently he directs the Comédie-Française Registers Project, a collaborative venture with the Bibiliothèque-musée of the Comédie Française theater troupe and several French universities.  This project has received significant funding from the French government's Agence nationale de recherche and the Florence Gould Foundation. In 2010, he co-curated an exhibit on technology and the Encyclopédie of Diderot and d'Alembert for the MIT Libraries.

Teaching interests include Old Regime and Revolutionary France, European cultural and intellectual history, the history of the book and comparative media studies, and World history.  He holds a secondary appointment in MIT's Global Studies and Languages Section. Since April 2015, Ravel has been the Faculty Lead for the MIT Nepal Initiative.