Jeffrey S. Ravel

Professor of History

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 from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries.

He co-directs the Comédie-Française Registers Project, a collaborative digital humanities venture between the Bibiliothèque-musée of the Comédie Française theater troupe, MIT, Harvard University, the University of Victoria, the Sorbonne, and the Université de Paris-Nanterre. Ravel has co-edited an online, open access, bilingual, volume of essays inspired by this project: Databases, Revenues, and Repertory: The French Stage Online, 1680-1793 (MIT Press, 2020).  He also directed the Visualizing Maritime History Project, a digital archive of two maritime history collections conserved by the MIT Museum.

Ravel was the President of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies in 2019-2020.  From 2004-2006 he edited the Society’s annual journal, Studies in Eighteenth-Century CultureHe served as   Co-President of the Society for French Historical Studies in 2012-2013.  He organizes the Boston-Area French History group, which meets several times a year to discuss works-in-progress by local and regional scholars of the French past.  He is a Co-Director of MIT’s Beaver Press Print Shop, located in Barker Library.  Since April 2015, he has been the Faculty Lead for the MIT-Nepal Initiative.

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.

Articles on SHASS-MIT News

The History of Making Books:  Building a Printing Press at MIT

How to Stage a Revolution

Computing and AI: Humanistic Perspectives from MIT

Bringing Data to Cultural History

The Meanings of Masks


Subjects Offered

Offered Fall 2022

Catalog Subject Faculty Level HASS Category

Renaissance to Revolution: Europe, 1300-1800

MW 2-3:30, E51-385
Jeffrey S. Ravel Introductory HASS-H CI-H
21H.343 CC.120

Making Books in the Renaissance and Today

Prof. Ravel: TR 2:30-4, 4-251
Prof. Zimmer: TR 2:30-4, 2-151
Jeffrey S. Ravel
Erica Zimmer
Seminar HASS-A

Not Offered This Term

Catalog Subject Faculty Level HASS Category
21H.241 21G.054

France: Enlightenment and Revolution

TR 2-3:30, 4-253
Jeffrey S. Ravel Intermediate HASS-H