Department of History
 

Rebecca Spang

  • Associate Professor, Department of History
  • Director, Center for Eighteenth-Century Studies

Education

  • B.A. at Harvard University, 1984
  • M.A. at Cornell University, 1988
  • Ph.D. at Cornell University, 1993

Contact Information

Ballantine Hall, Rm. 711
(812) 855-2437
mypage.iu.edu/~rlspang

Background

Rebecca Spang

I am a historian of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Europe who has concentrated primarily on the interaction of politics, culture, and consumption. In my most recent research, I have been especially interested in money. My Stuff and Money in the Time of the French Revolution (due to be published by Harvard University press in January 2015) uses one of the most infamous examples of monetary innovation, the assignats—a currency initially defined by French revolutionaries as “circulating land”—to write a new history of money and a new history of the French Revolution. It shows that revolutionary radicalization was driven by the ever-widening gap between political ideals and the experience of daily life and restores economics, in the broadest sense, to its rightful place at the heart of the Revolution (and hence of modern politics).

My first book, The Invention of the Restaurant: Paris and Modern Gastronomic Culture (also published by Harvard), won two major prizes and has been translated into Japanese, Portuguese, Turkish, and Modern Greek. It asks why and how “eating out” become a leisure activity and uses a broad range of sources (political pamphlets, medical treatises, travelers’ descriptions, plays, and images) to explore restaurants as a new form of semi-private sociability (and semi-public sensitivity) in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Deeply committed to archival research, I nonetheless find it crucial to maintain an active interest in cultural and critical theory. The mutual illumination of “theory” and “practice” often informs my teaching, as well, at both undergraduate and graduate level.

I am a member of the History Workshop Journal Editorial Collective and Secretary of the Bloomington Faculty Council.  If you would like to know more about the Center for Eighteenth-Century Studies, please see its website.

Selected Awards

  • Indiana University Trustees' Teaching Award (2009)
  • Gottschalk Prize for best book in eighteenth-century studies, American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (2001)
  • Thomas J. Wilson Prize for best first book, Harvard University Press
  • Michigan Society of Fellows, 1993-1996
  • Derek Bok Prize for excellence in teaching (1992)

Research Interests

  • Cultural history and social/economic theory
  • Modern Europe
  • France, 1715-present

Courses Recently Taught

Publication Highlights

Books

The Invention of the Restaurant: Paris and Modern Gastronomic Culture. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000; translated into Japanese (2002), Portuguese (2003), Modern Greek (2006), and Trurkish (2007).

Articles

"Money, Money, Money" (Review Essay), History Workshop Journal 69 (spring 2010), 225-233.

"Self, Field, Myth: What We Will Have Been,"H-France Salon 1:1 (November 2009), 24-32.

"Pulling a Rabbit out of a Cat," Cabinet, A Quarterly of Art and Culture 35 (fall 2009), 7-11.

"The Ghost of Law: Speculating on Money, Memory, and Mississippi in the French Constituent Assembly." Historical Reflections/Réflexions historiques special issue on "Money and the Enlightenment" 31:1 (winter 2005), 3-25.

"Paradigms and Paranoia: How Modern is the French Revolution?" (Review Essay), American Historical Review 108:1 (February 2003), 119-147.

"First Performances: Staging Memories of the February Revolution," in Axel Körner, ed., 1848: A European Revolution? London: Macmillan, 2000, 164-184.