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.  He is on sabbatical in the Fall 2021 term.

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 Spring 2022

Catalog Subject Faculty Level HASS Category

Renaissance to Revolution: Europe, 1300-1800

MW 2-3:30, 4-253
Jeffrey S. Ravel Introductory HASS-H CI-H
21H.241 21G.054

France: Enlightenment and Revolution

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