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. A related web site is available here.

He co-directs the Comédie-Française Registers Project, a collaborative digital humanities venture between the Bibiliothèque-musée of the Comédie Française theater troupe, MIT, New York 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).

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 was Head of the MIT History Faculty from 2015 to 2020.

He is currently serving on the International Advisory Board for the University of Nepal, the first-ever liberal arts institution of higher education in that country.


Voltaire Foundation Blog Posts

The Comédie-Française by the numbers, 1680-1793 

Recto and verso: playing cards in France before 1789