36 Years Of Social History

16 September 2021
By Susannah Ottaway ’89, Professor of History

36 years ago, Bob Bonner assigned The Making of the English Working Class to my freshman seminar, and I read the famous line “I am seeking to rescue the poor stockinger… from the enormous condescension of posterity.” The book opened my eyes to the pursuit of “history from below” that still defines my life as a teacher-scholar.

Now, I enjoy putting Thompson’s book alongside the numerous works that have challenged it, especially those that use gender as a category of historical analysis (like Anna Clark’s The Struggle for the Breeches). But it remains on the History Department’s Junior Colloquium syllabus, and still generated great discussion when I taught that course, several decades after I had first encountered this classic!