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Oral History
Robert Rosenstone Oral History with Shirley K. Cohen [sound recording]

Interview in two sessions, June 27 and July 20, 2005, with Robert A. Rosenstone, professor of history in the Division of Humanities and Social Sciences. Dr. Rosenstone, a native of Montreal, received his BA (1957) in literature and his PhD (1965) in history from UCLA. He taught for a year and a half at the University of Oregon in Eugene, then came to Caltech as a visiting assistant professor. He joined the faculty of the humanities division in 1968, received tenure the following year, and became a full professor in 1975, specializing in the Modern Age and in history in film, a subfield of which he is the leading exponent. In this interview, he discusses how his interest in film developed. In 1975, he began teaching a pioneering course at Caltech on history as it is presented in movies. He recalls his early association with the Academy Award-winning 1981 movie Reds, and later with The Good Fight, a feature-length 1984 documentary on the Lincoln Brigade, for both of which he was the historical consultant, and how these associations contributed to his development of the subfield of history in film. He recalls his stint as executive officer for the humanities (1983-1986) and his involvement in the art world at Caltech, where he served on the Institute Art Committee for twenty years and oversaw the Baxter Art Gallery. He discusses the early art exhibitions in Dabney Lounge in the late 1960s and the subsequent founding of the Baxter Art Gallery in the early 1970s, in collaboration with the Pasadena Art Allliance. There is a lengthy discussion of the Baxter Gallery's history and the possible reasons for its demise in 1985. He also recalls the latest art flap at Caltech, over the proposed installation of a Richard Serra wall on the lawn in front of the Beckman Institute, the campus opposition to it, and his decision to resign from the Institute Art Committee as a result of its precipitous cancellation by Caltech president David Baltimore. He concludes by commenting on the division and the disconnect within it between the humanities and the social sciences.

ID: 2005-00082
Rosenstone, Robert A.

Creation Jun. 27, 2005 through Jul. 20, 2005

MEDIUM: Sound recording; FORMAT: Sound cassette: analog; QUANTITY: 1 set (2 cassettes per set)

Topics: History, American, film

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