• 457 pages
  • 6 x 9
  • Price: $32.95
  • EAN: 9780877228363
  • Publication: Apr 1991

History and the New Left

Madison, Wisconsin, 1950-1970

Edited by Paul Buhle

Madison, Wisconsin has long been known as a dynamic cultural center and focus of political-intellectual ferment in the middle of America. This collection of essays and interviews traces the rise of an intellectual New Left from 1950 to 1970 as experienced by activists and scholars with ties to the University of Wisconsin. Its thirty-two contributors, including prominent historians, journalist-scholars, and veteran political activists, re-examine their own personal histories in different eras and draw fresh, often surprising conclusions. The city and campus of Madison provide a veritable laboratory for the study of deep continuities in American dissenting thought. Photographs and cultural documents accompany these poignant, candid oral histories.

The volume explores a crucial period of Madison’s intellectual life as a crossroad of history and culture. Interviews with the scholars and former students who politicized historical analysis in light of the Cold War, McCarthyism, nuclear and environmental holocaust, civil rights, and the Vietnam War, recall the debates and alliances that kept Madison in a state of ferment.


"Buhle has assembled a rich collection of people to reflect on how that community's traditions and meeting grounds in the 1950s and 1960s interacted to shape their own creative contribution." —David Thelen, Journal of American History

"Madison, Wisconsin, in the 1950s and 1960s was a rich soup of Wisconsin progressives, New York folksingers, socialists, and communists from all parts, actors, hyper-energetic graduate students, future film folk, culture critics—and above all, historians. The modern school of history-from-the-bottom-up came out of Madison. The place was probably the single most creative center of the American New Left. It was the place to be—as you'll see when you read the autobiographical reminiscences in this imaginative volume." —Paul Berman, New York Institute for the Humanities

About the Author(s)

Paul Buhle is Director of the Oral History of the American Left Project at the Tamiment Library of New York University and teachers U.S. History at the Rhode Island School of Design. He is co-editor with Paul Buhle of The New Left Revisited (Temple).

In the Series

Critical Perspectives on the Past

No longer active. Critical Perspectives on the Past, edited by Susan Porter Benson, Stephen Brier, and Roy Rosenzweig, is concerned with the traditional and nontraditional ways in which historical ideas are formed. In its attentiveness to issues of race, class, and gender and to the role of human agency in shaping events, the series is as critical of traditional historical method as content. Emphasizing that history is itself an interpretation of material events, the series demonstrates that the historian's choices of subject, narrative technique, and documentation are politically as well as intellectually constructed.