The French Revolution Comes Alive

Kathryn Davis plays the part of Hérault, one of the Jacobins, a group who supports the Revolution.


“We currently live in poverty; people are dying from starvation. The best days are only made of bread.”

This is life in France in 1790, as lived by 10 students and two professors in the French Revolutions/ Literary Romanticism class. Students dress to represent the characters from that period. The class incorporates both lecture and role play to educate students on the causes and outcomes of the French Revolution.

“It’s a class where you can participate and even change the course of history,” Amanda Fahrendorf said. She plays the character of Barere, a Feuillant who attempts to please both the royalists and the Jacobins who want revolution.

The reenactment resembles a game. It begins as a normal re-creation of history; however, there is a catch. The class’s revolution does not follow the exact historical timeline. Each group must compete to reach the goals of its own personal agenda. Anyone can win if they are persuasive and clever enough. Students must create speeches, overcome situations and form alliances to win the game.

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For every class students come dressed as historical characters from the French Revolution, ready to role play events and situations. Virginia Mull plays the character of Bailly, Amanda Fahrendorf plays Barere and Selene Brown plays Abby Sieyes. All three characters are from a politically moderate group called the Feuillants.

History professor Julie Tatlock and English professor Paula Reiter collaborated in creating the course.

“In this class, the French Revolution comes to life. Plus we get to dress in costume and have accents, so it’s really fun!” Fahrendorf said.

The professors have provided some of the accessories and costume pieces, however students take this opportunity to a whole new level. Each student brings her own attire that matches the character she is playing and creates mannerisms or accents that contribute to the immersion experience. Some students have created their own accessories and one student, Courtney Lehmann, has even sown her own costume.

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