Monday, 9 October 2017

Michael Rosen and History Workshop

From London Socialist Historians Group Newsletter 62 (Autumn 2017)
Image result for so they call you pisher michael rosen

 So They Call You Pisher!
A Memoir
ISBN 978-1786633965
2017 Verso 320pp

Michael Rosen is known as a poet, author, broadcaster and of course socialist activist. He also has a beard and supports Arsenal.
 His new memoir, So they call you Pisher!, is out from Verso and is of fascinating reading. At the London launch Rosen noted that much material had been edited out before publication and it  would indeed be interesting to see the author’s cut of the book as it were.
 One thing that Rosen is perhaps not particularly associated with is socialist history. However the book contains a fascinating vignette of the early period of History Workshop in Oxford, where Rosen was at college.
 Rosen was clearly far from happy with the stultified air and archaic content of some of the lectures he attended at Oxford but found History Workshop to be an exciting new development in the months before the May events in Paris in 1968. Rosen notes that some felt senior figures broadly associated with the movement such as E P Thompson, Christopher Hill and Eric Hobsbawm were ‘infected’ by Stalinism, although this was not his view but that of Raphael Samuel, who ran the Workshop at Ruskin, had a base of working-class, trade union focused, students who were doing interesting research.
 Rosen writes that ‘conferences were packed with hundreds of people, crowded into the halls and corridors, listening, talking, arguing and writing.. this I thought was one of the most exciting things happening, and I wanted to be part of it’.
Keith Flett

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