Alyssa Goldstein Sepinwall

Professor of History; Director of Graduate Studies
18th/19th Century France, Haiti, Colonialism, Jewish, Gender

Degrees: B.A. University of Pennsylvania; M.A. Stanford; Ph.D. Stanford
Selected Research:
Haitian History: New Perspectives (Routledge, 2012); The Abbe Gregoire and the French Revolution: The Making of Modern Universalism (Univ. of California Press, 2005); "Robespierre, Old Regime Feminist:  Gender, the Late Eighteenth Century and the French Revolution Revisited," in Journal of Modern History 82, no. 1 (March 2010):  1 – 29.

Prof. Alyssa Goldstein Sepinwall earned a B.A. in intellectual history and political philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in history from Stanford University. Before coming to CSUSM, she was Lucius N. Littauer Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. In 2000, Prof. Sepinwall was one of thirty early-career scholars selected to participate in the International Seminar on the Atlantic World at Harvard University.

She teaches courses in comparative world, Haitian and European history, focusing on intercultural contact, revolutions, French colonialism (Hist 381), travel, and the history of ideas.

Prof. Sepinwall's research focuses on the late 18th and early 19th centuries, particularly in France and Haiti.  Her scholarship focuses on the origins of modern thinking about difference, whether religious, racial, linguistic or gender.  Past projects include the French revolutionary priest and abolitionist Henri Grégoire; the impact of the Haitian Revolution in the United States and France; a comparative analysis of slavery, race and memory in the United States and France; debates about gender in Enlightenment and revolutionary France; Atlantic Revolutions; Napoleon and the Jews; new ideas of biography; teaching France in world history; and representations of colonialism, slavery and universalism in French film.

Selected publications:

  • “Sexuality, Orthodoxy and Modernity in France:  North African Jewish Immigrants in Karin Albou’s La Petite Jérusalem,” in Lawrence Baron, ed., Modern Jewish Experiences in World Cinema (Waltham, MA:  Brandeis University Press, 2011), 340 – 347.
  • “Classroom Classics:  Les Caprices d’un fleuve and Burn!” [essay on teaching early modern French colonialism through film], in Fiction and Film for French Historians: A Cultural Bulletin (publication of H-France Review), no. 3 (February 2011), available at [special issue on “The Haitian Revolution” with Laurent Dubois and Jeremy Popkin, edited by Howard Brown and Liana Vardi].
  • Radio Interview on Haitian History and the 2010 Earthquake, Chicago Public Radio, “Worldview” (with host Jerome McDonnell), Jan. 27, 2010 (available at
  • SuperQuiz Resource Guide, 2009-2010 National Academic Decathlon, "The French Revolution."
  • Co-editor, special issue of the World History Bulletin on France in World History, with Michael G. Vann, vol. XXVI, no. 1 (Spring 2010) [including her article "Is This Tocqueville or George W. Bush:  Teaching French Colonialism in Southern California After 9/11," pp. 18-23].
  • "Robespierre, Old Regime Feminist:  Gender, the Late Eighteenth Century and the French Revolution Revisited," in Journal of Modern History 82, no. 1 (March 2010):  1 - 29.
  • The Abbé Grégoire and the French Revolution: The Making of Modern Universalism (University of California Press, 2005); translated as L'abbé Grégoire et la Révolution française les origines de l'universalisme moderne (Bécherel :  Éditions Les Perséides, 2008).
  • "The Specter of Saint-Domingue:  American and French Reactions to the Haitian Revolution," in The World of the Haitian Revolution, eds. Norman Fiering and David Geggus (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2009).
  • "Atlantic Revolutions," in Encyclopedia of the Modern World, ed. Peter Stearns (Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 2008), I: 284-289.
  • "Defining the Nation: The Abbé Grégoire and the Problem of Diversity in the French Revolution," in The Human Tradition in Modern Europe, eds. Cheryl A. Koos and Cora Granata (Lanham, MD:  Rowman and Littlefield, 2007), 1-14.
  • What's a Nice Girl Like You Doing With a Priest Like This?  Biography, Jewish Studies, and Gentile Subjects, in AJS Perspectives (Spring 2007): 30-32.
  • "Napoleon, French Jews, and the Idea of Regeneration," in CCAR Journal 54 [special issue on Sanhedrin Bicentennial] (Winter 2007), 55-76.
  • "L'abbé Grégoire and the Metz Contest:  The View from New Documents," in Revue des Études Juives 166, nos. 1-2 (janvier - juin 2007), pp. 273-288.
  • "Atlantic Amnesia: French Historians, the Haitian Revolution and the 2004-6 CAPES Exam," in Proceedings of the Western Society for French History 34 (2006):  300-314 [electronic version available at].
  • "Strategic Friendships:  Jewish Intellectuals, the Abbé Grégoire and the French Revolution," in Renewing the Past, Reconfiguring Jewish Culture:  From Al-Andalus  to the Haskalah, eds. Adam Sutcliffe and Ross Brann (Philadelphia:  University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004):  189-212.
  • "Eliminating Race, Eliminating Difference: Blacks, Jews, and the Abbé Grégoire," in The Color of Liberty: Histories of Race in France, eds. Tyler Stovall and Sue Peabody (Durham, NC:  Duke University Press, 2003): 28-41.
  • "La révolution haïtienne et les États-Unis:  Étude historiographique," in 1802.  Rétablissement de l'esclavage dans les colonies françaises: Aux origines de Haïti, eds. Yves Benot and Marcel Dorigny (Paris:  Maisonneuve et Larose, 2003), 387-401.
  • "Les paradoxes de la régénération révolutionnaire:  le cas de l'abbé Grégoire," Annales historiques de la Révolution française, no. 321 (juillet/septembre 2000):  69-90.
  • Encyclopedia entries in Encyclopedia of Blacks in European Civilization, Encyclopedia of Slave Resistance and Rebellions, Antisemitism:  A Historical Encyclopedia of Prejudice and Persecution, Oxford Encyclopedia of the Enlightenment
  • Articles and book reviews in Revue française d'histoire d'outre-mer, Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society, American Historical Review,H-France Review, Law and History, Jewish History, Jewish Quarterly Review, H-Atlantic, Social History, The Historian, Zion.
  • Contributor to the Encyclopedia of Diderot & D'Alembert Collaborative Translation Project (

Sepinwall has served on committees of the American Historical Association, American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, French Colonial Historical Society, Society for French Historical Studies, Western Jewish Studies Association and Western Society for French History.  In 2004, she received the President's Award for Innovation in Teaching at Cal State San Marcos.  She currently serves on the editorial board of French Historical Studies.