Modern Europe Workshop - “‘The Thugs of the Academic World’? : America’s Mobile Student Revolutionaries in the US and Britain Around 1968”
“‘The Thugs of the Academic World’? : America’s Mobile Student Revolutionaries in the US and Britain Around 1968”
Dr David M. Fowler, University of Cambridge (Clare College) & Amherst College
The role American students played in the British, and indeed European, student protests of the late 1960s/early 1970s was much discussed at the time in the national and international media, as well as the senior common rooms of Oxford and Cambridge. No historian has yet examined this issue systematically. Drawing on extensive archival research for Fowler's forthcoming study of Britain’s “1968”, this lecture will illuminate the international and transnational dimension of the British student protests of the late 1960s/early 1970s. Who were the student protesters who forced the closure of the world-renowned London School of Economics in February 1969, attracted international media attention, and ignited debates in the British House of Commons and House of Lords? The British Education Secretary at the time, Edward Short, described the American students who participated in the protests as ‘the thugs of the academic world’. But who were these American student activists? How radicalised were the American Rhodes scholars at Oxford University in 1968? How central were American students in radicalising British university campuses in the Global Sixties? How central were they to Britain's, and indeed Europe's, "1968"? How were they radicalised in the US before arriving in Britain? What legacy did they leave in Britain and Europe? The lecture will explore these questions, and more, in this under-researched but fascinating strand of the British and American ‘Special Relationship’ of the 1960s and beyond.
David Fowler teaches Modern History and Politics at the University of Cambridge where he is a Life Member of Clare Hall Cambridge. He also holds a Lectureship in Modern History at Cardiff University and is Honorary Fellow in History at The University of York. He is currently a Visiting Scholar in the Department of History at Amherst College where he is preparing the first scholarly biography of Marshall Bloom, a transnational student activist of the 1960s who studied at Amherst College (1962-1966) and later at the London School of Economics.
David Fowler has published two acclaimed monographs on youth culture in twentieth century Britain: The First Teenagers: the Lifestyle of Young Wage-Earners in Interwar Britain (Routledge, 1995) and Youth Culture in Modern Britain, c.1920-c.1970: From Ivory Tower to Global Movement-A New History (Macmillan, 2008). His last book attracted leading articles in The Times, The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The Observer and was featured on Radio 4’s ‘Thinking Allowed’, The Today Programme and in other international media. Dominic Sandbrook (University of Oxford) described the book as ‘one of the most illuminating books I have ever read on youth culture’. His new book, Oxford and Revolution: Student Power, “1968” and a British Cultural Revolt is under contract with Oxford University Press and will be published in 2019.