Introduction to Remembering E.P. Thompson

Against the Current, No. 167, November/December 2013

The Editors

THE CLASSIC WORK of Edward P. Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class, 1780-1832, viewed the violent transformation brought by the Industrial Revolution as it was experienced from below, in the lives of people being formed into a modern working class.

 Too often considered solely as the product of an objective economic process that produced “progress” despite the attendant difficulties, in Thompson’s view, this working class needed to be understood as an agent of its own formation and coming to consciousness. Creatively and controversially, Thompson’s work developed this theme in ways that shaped a new generation of left and labor historians.

On the 50th anniversary of this book, Against the Current asked a number of historians to briefly assess Thompson’s work, its legacy and its impact on their own lives and careers. The first of these responses — Paul Buhle, Bruce Levine, Bryan Palmer and Ellen Meiksins Wood — appeared in our previous issue. We continue here with contributions by Barbara Winslow and Rafael Bernabe. The final installment will appear in ATC 168.

November/December 2013, ATC 167