Additional Information on Paul Buhle

Additional Information on Paul Buhle


* Paul Buhle was deeply influenced by the historian/journalist/social theorist C.L.R. James, whom he describes as: (a) “the Marxist with the deepest sense of culture” and (b) “the last great Pan African figure, a universal thinker who could see the entirety of human history within details, and write about it brilliantly.”

* Buhle co-founded the Rhode Island Labor History Society, was active in labor history and labor support activities, and produced several histories of the state’s labor movement. He also produced Vanishing Rhode Island (a pictorial history of the state) and Underground Rhode Island. The latter grew out of Buhle’s “Theory and Methods of Oral History” class, which in 2002 required students to “interview Rhode Islanders involved in a wide spectrum of cultural activities.” This encompassed, according to Buhle, “interracial, gay and lesbian cultures, experimental art, music, comics and so on.” Of the endless variety of “alternative” voices that Buhle deemed relevant for his history class, the professor said: “There’s no end in sight.”

* At Brown University, Buhle also taught a course called “The Sixties Without Apology” — presumably a reference to the 1984 book of the same title, which featured essays by left-wing writers extolling the famously radical decade. Buhle’s own thoughts on the Sixties are crystallized in The New Left Revisited, a 2003 book of essays, which he co-edited with the leftist Harvard professor John McMillian. Written by 14 radical academics, the hagiographic tenor of the book is captured in its introductory essay, which references the “Kennedyesque optimism and youthful idealism” of the Sixties-era New Left, whose members “were not communist sympathizers” but simply “refused to declare themselves anticommunist.” In a similar spirit, the express aim of Buhle’s course at Brown was “to encourage ways of ‘seeing’ the meanings of the 1960s for the present-day.” With this objective in mind, the assigned readings, which took a uniformly positive view of the radical decade, included The New Left Revisited.

* Buhle has contributed frequently to such publications as The NationThe Village VoiceThe Journal of American HistoryTikkunMonthly ReviewJewish CurrentsThe Chronicle of Higher Education, and The San Francisco Chronicle.

* Buhle has co-authored four books on the history of the Hollywood Blacklist, and edited a series of graphic nonfiction works by American comics, artists, and writers.

* In addition to the professional and activist pursuits described in the profile, Buhle at various times has served as a board member of The Minnesota Review; a contributing editor with Tikkun; an editorial advisory board member of Radical Americas (an online publication of the Movement for a Democratic Society); a member of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA); a sponsor of the magazine New Politics, which is staffed and run almost entirely by DSA members; and an adviser on documentary biographies of Marxist historian Howard Zinn, comic artist Will Eisner, and the Italian anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti.

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