Dr. Marisa Linton, Associate Professor of History at Kingston University, has been invited to the University of Melbourne this July, where she will speak at a forthcoming international symposium, ‘Living the French Revolution’, in honour of Professor Peter McPhee.
The prestigious event will see Marisa discuss two great figures of the French Revolution: Maximilien Robespierre and Antoine Saint-Just, in a talk entitled: ‘The Sea-Green Incorruptible and the Archangel of Death’.
As well as teaching History at Kingston University, Marisa is an active researcher and is a leading expert on all aspects of the French Revolution. She is in demand internationally and has given many invited talks on the Revolution, including in the USA, France, Canada, Australia, Germany and Norway.
Her upcoming talk in Australia will look at two leading figures of the French Revolution, Robespierre and Saint-Just (pictured), and how their reputations have been presented in fictionalised narratives: popular histories, literature, theatre and cinema. Such narrative accounts typically present these two revolutionaries as having held strongly contrasting attitudes towards tactics and the ethics of using violence in the cause of sustaining the Revolution.
Saint-Just is frequently portrayed as a pitiless and ruthless proponent of terror, a foil against which to contrast Robespierre’s more conscience-stricken responses. Invariably Saint-Just’s logic wins the argument, whilst Robespierre’s humanity suffers. Their choices are often depicted in personal as well as political terms, focussing on the pivotal question of whether friendship or commitment to the Revolution was more important, as in the so-called ‘Danton Affair’. Yet in life these men worked closely together and shared many, though not all, attitudes towards policy and tactics.
Marisa’s talk will ask to what extent the narrative of contrasts was part of a ‘mythologisation’ of the nature of the Revolution, intended to show Robespierre’s lingering humanity gradually crushed out of existence when confronted with the inexorable logic of revolutionary politics. Marisa’s talk draws on material for which she is currently working for a book on Robespierre, Danton, Desmoulins and Saint-Just, entitled Saturn’s Children: Leaders of the French Revolution, to be published by Oxford University Press.
Marisa Linton’s publications include the critically-acclaimed Choosing Terror: Virtue, Friendship, and Authenticity in the French Revolution (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013)