Van Gosse



  • Professor at Franklin & Marshall College
  • Steering committee member of Historians Against the War
  • Former steering committee member of United For Peace and Justice
  • Former organizing director of Peace Action

Van Gosse, who worked as a disc jockey while also writing for such publications as the Village Voice and Melody Maker from 1979-84, earned a bachelor’s degree in history at Columbia University in 1983 and a Ph.D. in history at Rutgers University in 1992. He taught at Wellesley College (1991-92) and Trinity College (1994-95), and was an adjunct lecturer at George Mason University from 1996-97. Thereafter, Gosse was a Fellow at the American Council of Learned Societies in 1998-99, and a Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center during 2000-01. He has been a history professor at Franklin & Marshall College in Pennsylvania since 2001.

Early in his academic career, Gosse’s scholarship centered around post-World War II social movements in the United States. He authored or edited several books on the New Left—with what he described as “a particular focus on the movements ‘in solidarity’ with social change in Latin America, from the Cuban Revolution in the 1950s through the Central American wars of the 1980s.” Today Gosse’s teaching and scholarship focus on: (a) “American political development and the special role that the African American struggle for citizenship has played in our history,” and (b) “American culture and society in the Cold War era and since.” Moreover, Gosse has written extensively about “the question of Black Power—whether or not African Americans would ever be, or could ever be, ‘first-class citizens.’”

In 1992 Gosse was a national board member of the Committee In Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES), a leftist organization established in America by prominent members of the Salvadoran Communist Party and Cuban intelligence in order to support El Salvador’s militant guerrillas. CISPES was also part of the Soviet-controlled World Peace Council, which sought to manipulate the opinions of Americans through protests and disinformation campaigns.

In July 1992 Gosse endorsed the national conference of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism, which was held at UC Berkeley. He served as development director of the Center for Democracy in the Americas from 1992-93, and as its executive director from 1993-94.

In the mid-1990s Gosse was a contributing editor with the Oakland-based Institute for Social and Economic Studies, which sponsored CrossRoads magazine—a periodical that, according to, sought to “bring diverse Marxist and socialist traditions to bear while exploring new strategies and directions for the progressive political movements.”

From 1995-2000, Gosse was the organizing director of Peace Action (formerly SANE/Freeze).

In January 2003 Gosse co-founded Historians Against the War (HAW) at the annual meeting of the American Historical Association. From the fall of 2002 through 2008, he served on the steering committee of United For Peace and Justice.

Since 2004, Gosse has helped direct the “F&M Votes” campaign, which he describes as “a joint student/staff/faculty effort” at Franklin & Marshall College “which seeks to both register and turn-out our entire student body on Election Day.”

In June 2005, Gosse identified “three criteria [necessary] for a successful movement to oppose U.S. foreign policy,” a policy which he viewed as aggressive, militaristic, and exploitative. Specifically, Gosse called for a movement that “constantly spreads into new geographic and demographic spaces (and sectors), so as to keep structures of power on the defensive”; “will manifest a multi-strategy and multi-tactics approach to swarm conventional structures of power and policy-making elites, never letting up and wearing them down, in the political equivalent of guerrilla warfare”; and “will focus on opportunities to connect to so-called ‘mainstream’ … legislative and electoral politics, since this is the arena where a movement must register its gains …”

In January 2007 Gosse derided President George W. Bush’s “fiercely militarist vision of total domination both internationally and here at home.” Given the unpopularity of Bush and the Iraq War at that time, Gosse saw what he described as “the greatest opportunity for [the development of] a true American Left in my lifetime.”

In 2009 Gosse was listed as a signer on the website of Progressives for Obama (later renamed Progressive America Rising). That same year, he co-founded the Post-Capitalist Project (PCP), a cooperative, nonsectarian alliance of leftist journals, popular education centers, and electronic media that promote a “transition beyond capitalism toward a socialist future.”

In addition to his professorial duties and his work with PCP, Gosse is a steering committee member of the Radical History Review. He also blogs on the Huffington Post.

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