LECTURE: Vincent Brown, Charles Warren Profess or History and Professor of African-American Studies, Harvard University
Tacky's Revolt and the Coromantee Archipelago A New Cartography of Slave Revolt"
Thursday, January 30th, 4.15 PM, L01 Carson Hall
Professor of History
University of California, Santa Barbara
May 13, 2009
I'll never forget the first time I met Bruce, in a Berkeley eatery called the Butter Cup a year or two before he joined the Dartmouth faculty. I'd heard of him, of course. He already had a rep as one of those grad students who actually walked the walk, i.e., he "industrialized" as the late New Left made its valiant, hopeless "turn to the working class." I'd taken a powder on that detour from grad school, but the experience must have ultimately reinforced Bruce's sense of himself as a serious historian. At that first meeting, he was full of good cheer and good talk, bubbling over with the interesting archival source or the stray fact that completed part of an historical puzzle. We were both semi-employed, as I recall, but Bruce did about as much as anyone to convince me that the study of working class history was important, worthy, and not just another path to an academic career.
Several years later Bruce spent some time as a research fellow at the University of Virginia when I was teaching there. Once again we had a great time talking and talking and talking, but as I recall, Bruce's greatest impact may have been on my son, Daniel, who was about 12 then and just discovering the world of ideas. We had some great ice cream sodas with Dan on the Charlottesville downtown mall. Bruce's animated persona and seriousness of purpose demonstrated to Dan that aside from his peculiar parents, there were actually people, often quite handsome and tall, who thought the historian's profession one of high usefulness and political consequence.
Indeed, Bruce's books and other writings have always been of enormous importance to me and to the wide circle of historians who think of themselves as social or ethnic or labor historians. He has been one of the great historians of working class mentalité, and I see his current work on the green Atlantic as falling very much upon that same historiographical terrain.
I'm Dartmouth '66 so it has always given me a lot of pleasure that Bruce ended up there, injecting a bit of the Berkeley spirit onto the Hanover plain. I am certain that it has done the Big Green a lot of good.
Last Updated: 10/1/09