Dr. Rob Alexander

Dr. Rob Alexander

BA (Western), MA (UofT), PhD (Cantab)

Area of expertise

European. Modern (post-1789) French history, 19th-Century European Political History.


I received a BA from Western Ontario, majoring in history with most of my electives in political science or English and Russian literature. I then went to Toronto for an MA, studying early-modern and modern French and British History, and wrote a thesis entitled 'Vauban and Absolutism'. Thereafter I went to Cambridge, and wrote a dissertation entitled 'The French Federations of 1815'. My  supervisor was TCW Blanning, and Frederic Bluche helped guide my research at Paris. I was hired as the department's historian of modern France in 1988, became an associate professor in 1991, and a full professor in 2002. My first three books focused primarily on French history, but in my fourth I metamorphosed into a European historian. I have now returned to my roots and am working on a study of French public debate over military intervention into the domestic politics of other states. 

Selected publications


  • Bonapartism and Revolutionary Tradition in France (Cambridge: University Press, 1991).
  • Napoleon (London: Arnold, 2001). Parts of their 'Reputations' series.
  • Re-Writing the French Revolutionary Tradition in France (Cambridge: University Press, 2003).
  • Europe's Uncertain Path 1814-1914: State Formation and Civil Society (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012)

Articles and chapters:

  • “Restoration Republicanism Reconsidered,”  French History , v. 8, n. 4 (Dec. 1994), pp. 442-69.
  • “Napoleon Bonaparte and the French Revolution,” in P. Pilbeam, ed., Themes in Modern European History, 1780-1830 (London: Routledge, 1995), pp. 40-64.
  • “No, Minister: French Restoration Rejection of Authoritarianism,” in D. Laven and L. Riall, eds., Napoleon's Legacy (Oxford: Berg, 2000), pp. 29-47.
  • “The Hero as Houdini: Napoleon and Nineteenth-Century Bonapartism”,  Modern and Contemporary France , 8, n. 4 (Nov. 2000), pp. 457-67.
  • "Benjamin Constant as a Restoration Politician", in Helena Rosenblatt, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Constant (Cambridge: University Press, 2009), pp. 146-70.


HSTR 240A Europe, Renaissance to the French Revolution
HSTR 240B Europe, Napoleon to the European Union
HSTR 340

Terror, Colective Security, and Military Intervention in European Great-Power Politics

HSTR 342B Revolutionary and Napoleonic Europe, 1789 - 1815
HSTR 342C Democracy, War, and Nation Building in Europe, 1814-1914
HSTR 347A Reaction, Reform and Revolution in France, 1814-1914
HSTR 347B The Decline and Renewal of France, 1914 - 2014
HSTR 445A Scandals and Political Culture in France, 1785 - 1870
HSTR 445B Scandals and Political Culture in France, 1870 - 2000
HSTR 504B 19th-Century European Politics, 1814-1914

Grad students

MA Students:

Stuart Kernaghan, 'The idealised revolutionary: contemporary French politics and the symbolic importance of Maximilien Robespierre' (1999)

Samantha Hartley, 'Not a "woman's issue": divorce and the family as a political battleground for secularizers and Catholics from 1792 to 1816' (1999)

Dawn Dodds, 'The purge of the Girondins: the use and abuse of violence from the September Massacres to the assassination of Marat' (2002)

Valerie Deacon, 'The art of secrecy and subversion: the Cagoule and French politics in the 1930s' (2005)

Bronwen Magrath, 'Contested classrooms: cultural control and resistance in Alsace and Algeria, 1918-1940' (2006)

Elizabeth Della Zazzera, 'Romancing the nation: the reconciliation of the individual and the collective in romantic nationalism' (2009)

Mathieu Robitaille, 'Redefining the Monarchiens: the failure of moderation in the French Revolution' (2010)

Salam Guenette, ‘Franco-British Relations Transformed?: The Socio-Political Impact of the Emigrés’ Presence in Britain’ (2013)