Oral historians

Howkins, Alun (14 of 17).  Oral History of Oral History

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  • Recording date

    2008-03-03, 2009-04-21, 2009-06-11, 2009-07-30, 2009-10-08, 2009-10-29, 2009-12-10, 2010-04-22, 2010-11-17, 2011-08-15

  • Interviewees

    Howkins, Alun, 1947- (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Wilkinson, Robert (speaker, male)

  • Abstract

    Part 14: [Session eleven 22 April 2010] London History Workshop and fight to save the GLC. Mentions Jerry White and Anna Davin. Links with Television History Workshop. Mentions Ruth Richardson and had been a student at Sussex, Doc Rowe also involved. Describes political background including the problems caused by the eventual failure of the pitmen's strike. Alun's attitude to the Labour Party and Blairism. [10:13] Ewan McColl and being presented with a miner's lamp by Arthur Scargill. Defeat of the miners months later. Discussion about Arthur Scargill's role in the strike. Alun was at a football match Brighton v Barnsley and the support Scargill got from the crowd. Michael Ignatieff and his role within History Workshop. He said he had been expelled from History Workshop because of his opposition to the miners strike. Not true that he was expelled. [18:30] More on London History Workshop and seminars in pubs Black Horse in Rathbone Place for instance. [21:00] History Workshop Journal, now a deliberate policy of recruiting younger people. Its impact.- Mentions Gareth Steadman Jones and his intellectualism, Sally Alexander and Barbara Taylor's interest in psychoanalysis. Raphael Samuel, Anna Davin Stan Shipley and move away from Marxism. Jane Caplan became influenced by psychoanalysis later on. He is not sure he has ever been a Marxist, explains why. Mentions a paper, 'Karl Marx and the Agricultural Worker' he wrote in the 1980s. More sympathetic to Marx in that decade. Suspicion of Freudism. Mentions Andrew Lincoln as a founding editor of the Journal and went to live in Brittany. Michael Ignatieff actually resigned. Theodor Shanin  was briefly involved. [33:17] Describes editorial process. 20 editors. Change of name brought a growing feeling that socialist and feminist were becoming meaningless to a newer generation. Some debate within the collective. Raphael's view on this. [39:30] More recent historians Tristram Hunt and Yasmin Khan. Mentions Keith Flett and his taunt of selling out. [42:00] British Agricultural History Society and Alun's involvement. Not at home with the intellectual "elite. Sir John 'Higgs had suggested that Prince Charles become the President of the Society. Alun voted against He has just been elected President, 600 members. Also involved in the Economic History Society they still talked about class.  Mentions Sally Alexander and editing the Journal. Also mentions a number of early members of History Workshop. Change to Oxford University Press. Pluto had earlier done the distribution. Routledge took over the journal. Routledge owned by Norman Franklin then took over by ABP. Problems then OUP took over. Good relationship. Mentions a journal published by Cambridge University Press which doesn't make a profit. Mentions JSTOR who initially refused them. [1:01:11] Describes editorial meetings from early days and people involved. Describes present day editorial arrangements. Time lags in production schedules. [1:11:50] Mentions an article on dreams and tensions around psychoanalysis content. New website being developed and discussion about Alun singing on it. Startled the younger members.[1:17:20] Career at Sussex and its reputation. Interdisciplinary university. Describes departmental arrangements. Taught various modules which he - mentions. Describes some of his writing including on Turner at Petworth. Early 1990s was a good place to work especially around the contextural work. Quite a few mature students. Early 1980s with Thatcherite reforms of universities things changed. Held on until mid to late 1990s. Change was supported by younger members of staff. Debate in Senate about the interdisciplinary system. Alun spoke up when they were defeated in second debate. Departments set up. Alun was Director of Graduate Centre in Humanities. Mentions people he has worked with especially in the English Dept. Hard work for the students. [1:32:20] Mentions posts he has held in the university. Disciplinary Committee. PhD theses he has supervised. Has retired as he didn't want to work in the new system. Sussex had little influence on what he said and wrote. For only 10-12 years he taught what he researched on. From late 1980s he rarely used his research. Goes through PhD theses. Mentions Reg Hall referred by Vic Gammon.

  • Description

    Life story interview with Alun Howkins, Emeritus Professor of History at University of Sussex and agricultural historian and folklorist.

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