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564 Hamilton Hall


BA Northern Illinois University, 1983
MA Northern Illinois University, 1985
PhD University of Michigan, 1990

Research Interest

Jay M. Smith is a specialist of early-modern France, especially in the later seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Most of his work traces the negotiation of change over time, and he often uses the history of language to gain access to processes of change. Smith has written about the development of royal absolutism, the emergence of patriotic habits of thought under the old regime, the origins of the French Revolution, the history of the nobility, and the fascinating legend surrounding the beast of the Gévaudan. He also wrote, with Mary Willingham, an exposé of the UNC athletic-academic scandal. He is now working on a comparative study of the emergent concept of political accountability in the eighteenth-century North Atlantic.

Some Notable Publications

  • The French Revolution. A Quick Immersion (Tibidabo Publishing, 2020) (Potomac Books, 2015)
  • Cheated: The UNC Scandal, the Education of Athletes, and the Future of Big-Time College Sports (Potomac Books, 2015)
  • Monsters of the Gévaudan: The Making of a Beast (Harvard University Press: 2011)
  • The French Nobility in the Eighteenth Century: Reassessments and New Approaches (Penn State University Press, 2006)
  • Nobility Reimagined: The Patriotic Nation in Eighteenth-Century France (Cornell University Press, 2005)
  • The Culture of Merit: Nobility, Royal Service, and the Making of Absolute Monarchy in France, 1600–1789 (University of Michigan Press, 1996)

Graduate Students

Courses Taught (as schedule allows)

For current information about course offerings, click here.

  • HIST 84— (First Year Seminar)–Monsters, Murder and Mayhem in Microhistorical Analysis
  • HIST 309—Old Regime France, 1661-1787
  • HIST 310—The French Revolution
  • HIST 383— Big-Time College Sports and the Rights of Athletes, 1956-Present
  • HIST 516—Historical Time
  • HIST 711—Introductory Colloquium on Early Modern Europe
  • HIST 765—Problems in the History of the French Revolution