Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group


First Advisor

Warren Breckman


This dissertation is a political history of The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, from its composition by Karl Marx and first publication in New York City in 1852 to the last edition published in the Weimar Republic eighty years later. It studies ten editions published in the United States, Germany, and France, using sources such as the correspondence among those involved in making them to determine the political significance of each edition, explaining why the work survived and how it changed over time. It posits that an original political meaning of the work as a “picture of the land of revolution” was quickly forgotten and new modes of interpretation developed to explain its past and present meaning in different national contexts. In this eighty-year period, the Brumaire rose slowly from near oblivion to be recognized as a prime example of historical materialism and a model of revolutionary political thought, but dilemmas of interpretation already evident in inconspicuous forms in the nineteenth century took drastic political shapes after the First World War. Much of our scholarly knowledge of the Brumaire today remains deeply influenced by its political history before 1933. A history of the text is finally a critical investigation of a large part of this inherited knowledge that aims to inform the future uses of Marx in teaching and research.

Files over 3MB may be slow to open. For best results, right-click and select "save as..."