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Interview with Robert A. Rosenstone

Rosenstone, Robert A. (2011) Interview with Robert A. Rosenstone. [Oral History]

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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.

Item Type:Oral History
Record Number:CaltechOH:OH_Rosenstone_R
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Rosenstone, Robert A. Interview by Shirley K. Cohen. Pasadena, California, June 27 and July 20, 2005. Oral History Project, California Institute of Technology Archives. Retrieved [supply date of retrieval] from the World Wide Web:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
Subjects:Subjects > Social Sciences
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Subjects > Humanities
ID Code:176
Deposited By: Oral Histories Administrator
Deposited On:01 Mar 2011
Last Modified:04 Oct 2019 15:23

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