Julius Ruff (Ph.D., North Carolina, Chapel Hill 1979)
France, Crime and punishment, First World War
The social and cultural history of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century France has been the focus of my scholarship for over four decades. I have pursued that interest through research in the voluminous criminal court records of that period. Such records offer the researcher an excellent source, indeed one of the few written sources, for understanding the conflicts and solidarities, cultural norms, and social structure of a population which, in majority, was still illiterate. I am the author of two books based on court records,
Crime, Justice, and Public Order in Old Regime France: The Sénéchaussées of Libourne and Bazas, 1696-1789 and Violence in Early Modern Europe, 1500-1800. In addition, I am presently at work on a study of bands of thieves in the eighteenth-century Paris region, tentatively entitled Bandits. My work on the history of France was reflected in my election as Co-President of the Society of French Historical Studies in 2002-2003
My teaching interests have far transcended my research interests over the years. Since entering the classroom, I have taught the two-semester Western Civilization survey virtually every academic year, and I drew on that experience to co-author a textbook designed for that course, Discovering the Western Past: A Look at the Evidence (2 vols., now in its seventh edition). In addition, I teach the University’s undergraduate courses on the European Old Regime, the French Revolution and Napoleon, France since 1815, an interdisciplinary course on the history and philosophy of crime and punishment, and a course on the First World War. My graduate level teaching encompasses readings and research courses that span the history of Europe from the Protestant Reformation through the First World War.