Watch Two Courses by Beloved Yale Historian John Merriman (RIP): “France Since 1871” and “European Civilization, 1648 to 1945”




On May 22, historian John Merriman died at the age of 75. A professor at Yale since 1973, Merriman became an “early practitioner of the history ‘from the ground up, that swept academic study in the 1970s,” notes an obituary in Yale News. There, historian Alice Kaplan adds: “John Merriman became our greatest historian of the French left and its repression, of the Communards, the Anarchists, and the French police, whose experiences he brought to life in books and lectures informed by his work in archives in every region of France…”

The New York Times remembers him as “a rumpled figure who used his storytelling gifts to animate his lectures on French and European history.” And they recall how author Ta-Nehisi Coates “watched some of Professor Merriman’s recorded lectures online and described him … as a ‘kind of freestyle rapper’ who riffed off his material — anecdotes, quotes and observations — and ‘had this weird ability to inhabit the history.'”

You, too, can watch his lectures online. A number of years ago, Merriman made two of his beloved courses, “France Since 1871” (top) and “European Civilization, 1648 to 1945” (below) available on Yale Open Courses. If you click on the preceding links, you can find the syllabus and books for each course. These courses are permanently listed in our collection of Free Online History Courses, a subset of our collection, 1,700 Free Online Courses from Top Universities.

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