Date of Award


Document Type

Restricted Thesis

Terms of Use

© 1976 Madelyn Wessel. All rights reserved. Access to this work is restricted to users within the Swarthmore College network and may only be used for non-commercial, educational, and research purposes. Sharing with users outside of the Swarthmore College network is expressly prohibited. For all other uses, including reproduction and distribution, please contact the copyright holder.

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


History Department

First Advisor

Robert S. DuPlessis


Wessel analyzes German philosopher Johann Gottfried Herder's initial support for the French Revolution and reaction to the subsequent violence. Using letters she translates, in addition to Herder's other writings and secondary sources, Wessel unpacks Herder's philosophy of history. Wessel finds that revolution could not be justified in Herder's broader philosophy, complicating his support for the French Revolution. Wessel argues that Herder’s conception of the volk and his interest in national culture justified his support for the revolution. She finds that Herder could support the revolution because it resulted from the consciousness of an entire nation that believed in radical change.