Regenerating Biography, or In Search of Universalism

Alyssa Goldstein Sepinwall

in The Abbe Gregoire and the French Revolution

Published by University of California Press

Published in print March 2005 | ISBN: 9780520241800
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520931091 | DOI:
Regenerating Biography, or In Search of Universalism

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)


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This chapter discusses several fascinations about gender, the history of the Jews, colonialism, and postcolonialism. It includes issues such as why revolutions erupt, what role religious truth claims play in political and cultural life, and how ideas transform as they are diffused throughout society. Its association with Keith Michael Baker, a renowned scholar of eighteenth-century France, reaffirmed its desire to specialize in that field. The chapter goes on to discuss the abbé Henri Grégoire, a famous white French priest. For anyone studying the French Revolution or modern Jewish history, an examination of the part played by abbé is inescapable. A priest from Lorraine, he wrote a famous essay on Jews in 1788, urging that they be “regenerated” physically, morally, and politically, in order to be integrated fully into French society. The following year he came to Paris for the Estates-General and become involved in the Revolution, where he was the figure credited with effecting Jewish emancipation.

Keywords: gender; colonialism; postcolonialism; Keith Michael Baker; Henri Grégoire; French Revolution; Jews; emancipation

Chapter.  3200 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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