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October 24, 1996

Noted historian to speak at Pitt Nov. 6

When it comes to historians, few names are better known than that of Eric Hobsbawm, professor emeritus at the University of London and the New School of Social Research in New York City.

Hobsbawm's books "The Age of Revolution," "The Age of Capital," "The Age of Empire" and, most recently, "The Age of Extremes: A History of the World, 1914-1994" are standards in classrooms throughout the world.

Hobsbawm will deliver Pitt's annual E. P. Thompson Memorial Lecture, "Class, Ethnicity, and Labor Identity," on Nov. 6 at 7:30 p.m. in the Frick Fine Arts auditorium.

According to lecture organizer Marcus Rediker, a faculty member in the history department, Hobsbawm possesses a breadth of knowledge that puts him among a select few in the field of history.

"He writes books that deal with world historical processes," said Rediker. "He writes not just about the history of England or France, but the biggest issues that are frequently international." Along with being the author of more than 15 distinguished books of history, Hobsbawm also is a gifted essayist and an important jazz critic. His essays have been collected in several volumes, including "Labouring Men" and "Revolutionaries," and his jazz work in "The Jazz Scene." Thompson, whom the lecture honors, was a pioneer in the democratization of history and a visiting member of Pitt's history department. He died in 1993. Hobsbawm was one of Thompson's close personal friends.

Normally, the lecture is held in March or April. It is being delivered on Nov. 6 this year to coincide with Hobsbawm's stay in New York City at the New School for Social Research.

"When we established this lecture series, we hoped that he would eventually be one of the speakers," Rediker said. "When I approached him about it, he was more than happy to do so, in large part because he wanted to remember and honor his friend." Since its inception three years ago, the Thompson lecture has become a campus-wide event drawing more and more sponsors each year, according to Rediker. Sponsors this year include The Pittsburgh Center for Social History Working-Class Seminar, Pitt's Honors College, the departments of Africana studies, anthropology, communication, English, history, political science, religious studies and sociology. Program sponsors are cultural studies, western European studies and women's studies.

In addition to the Pitt sponsors, the Thompson lectures also are sponsored by the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and Department of History at Carnegie Mellon University, and the Department of History at Duquesne University.

Filed under: Feature,Volume 29 Issue 5

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