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Rousseau, Burke, and Revolution in France, 1791

by  Jennifer Popiel, Gary Kates and Mark C. Carnes

Portions of this page are still under construction, pending more details from the Game Authors. Reacting Consortium Members can download game materials below.

Revolution, counter-revolution, or reform in France.

Rousseau, Burke, and Revolution in France, 1791 plunges students into the intellectual, political, and ideological currents that surged through revolutionary Paris in the summer of 1791. Students are leaders of major factions within the National Assembly (and in the streets outside) as it struggles to create a constitution amidst internal chaos and threats of foreign invasion. Will the king retain power? Will the priests of the Catholic Church obey the “general will” of the National Assembly or the dictates of the pope in Rome? Do traditional institutions and values constitute restraints on freedom and individual dignity or are they its essential bulwarks? Are slaves, women, and Jews entitled to the “rights of man”? Is violence a legitimate means of changing society or of purging it of dangerous enemies? In wrestling with these issues, students consult Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Social Contract and Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France, among other texts.



Political Science; European History; Philosophy

18th Century; Late Modern Period

In a Few Words


Themes and Issues  
Political and state violence, inequality, Slavery, Colonialism and imperialism, Church and state,  Monarchy

Player Interactions 

Sample Class Titles
Political Violence and Revolutions; Intro to Political Theory

Published Level 5 game (what's that mean?


Chaos and Demand on Instructor 

Primary Source Highlights

Notable Roles

Lafayette, King Louis, Bailley 

Using the Game

Class Time  
For this game, 2 to 5 setup sessions and 6 to 9 game sessions are recommended.

Possible Reacting Game Pairings
This game can be used on its own, or with other games. These pairings are meant to be illustrative rather than exhaustive or prescriptive. French Revolution may pair well with many different games depending on the context of the class.

For Comparative Revolutions:

For Rollicking Democracy: 
For Modern Europe:


You can adjust the assignments based on the desired learning outcomes of your class. Ordinarily, all roles are required to give formal speeches. In addition, factions work together to write and publish newspapers.

Class Size and Scalability 

This game is recommended for classes with 7-41 students.


Reacting Consortium members can access all downloadable materials (including expanded and updated materials) below. You will be asked to sign in before downloading.  Basic game materials (Gamebook, Role Sheets, Instructor's Guide, and Handouts) are available to any instructor through the publisher. 


Students need a Gamebook, which includes directions, resources, and historical content. The French Revolution Gamebook is published by UNC Press. 

 ISBN: 978-1-4696-7074-4
 Available wherever books are sold.

Role Sheets and Add'l Materials

Students also need a Role Sheet, which contains biographical information, role-specific resources or assignments, and their character's secret victory objectives. 

.zip file of .pdf files.

.zip file of .pdf, .doc, and .docx files.

Instructor's Guide

The Instructor's Guide includes guidance for assigning roles, presenting historical context, assignments, activities and discussion topics, and more.   

Second edition. Updated 2015. .docx file.

Additional Resources 

Digital Assets

This includes digital Zoom backgrounds for your students, as well as a relevant resources page.

Webinar Video: Use French Rev Online

This includes the video recording of the webinar.

Resources for Introduction and/or Debrief

Forums for French Revolution

Please note that these forums are in a beta phase and that functionality may be limited. Game authors have discretion when deciding what community materials can be publicized on the Reacting website.



Last message



Jennifer Popiel

Jennifer Popiel is Associate Professor of History at Saint Louis University. She is the award-winning author of Rousseau's Daughters: Domesticity, Education, and Autonomy in Modern France as well as a Fulbright Research Scholar and past President of the Western Society for French History. She recently recorded From Spinning Wheel to Steam and Steel: Understanding the Age of Industrialization with Modern Scholar recorded books. As an intellectual historian of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, her research has explored women's history, childhood, education, and individuality in the modern world. Her current work examines French Catholics such as Rose Philippine Duchesne to investigate the intersection of vocation, spirituality, and public activism.

Gary Kates

Gary Kates is professor of history at Pomona College. He is the author of The Cercle Social, the Girondins, and the French Revolution and the editor of The French Revolution: Recent Debates and New Controversies. He has served on the editorial board of French Historical Studies. In 1995 the Knight-Ridder News Service named his Monsieur d’Eon Is a Woman: A Tale of Sexual Masquerade and Political Intrigue as one of the top nonfiction books of that year.

Mark C. Carnes

Mark C. Carnes is professor of history at Barnard College and creator of Reacting to the Past. He is the author of many books in American history and general editor of the 26-volume American National Biography, published by the ACLS and Oxford University Press.


Members can contact game authors directly

We invite instructors join our Facebook Faculty Lounge, where you'll find a wonderful community eager to help and answer questions. We also encourage you to submit your question for the forthcoming FAQ, and to check out our upcoming events


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