Friday, October 24, 2008

Thompson and the electronic commons

English historian, political activist and poet EP Thompson grew up in the era of massive, rickety, rackety typewriters, and in his old age he always refused to buy a computer, even when most of his fellow researchers and writers had discovered the benefits of the new-fangled devices.

Thompson's distaste for computers, and the small fact that he died in Septmber 1993, made me somewhat surprised to discover that the great historian has launched a My Space page. Perhaps, though, Thompson sees the internet as a new, electronic version of the commons that he celebrated in many of his histories? Perhaps his spirit is drawn toward the unfenced expanses of My Space and the blogosphere?

In his My Space profile, Edward names John Sayles' Matewan as his favourite film, and gives the thumbs up to Bill Direen when he proclaims that he 'likes folk music from everywhere'. Edward gives his martial status as 'single', which might not please Dorothy.

I'm very pleased to see that Edward links to one of my blog posts - it became a thesis chapter - at the top of his page. It's nice to know I've got the big guy in my corner when I argue about the interpretation of his work.

Another chapter of the good old PhD thesis has just been published in the academic journal Thesis Eleven. 'Between Zhdanov and Bloomsbury' considers the great man's poetry, which has generally been considered the ugly duckling of his oeuvre. Edward will be pleased, I think, because he always wanted to be a poet far more than he wanted to be a historian. If he's not pleased then I suppose he can always criticise me from beyond the grave, through his medium at My Space...


Blogger dave said...

Mate he must have already been conducting an immortal conversation if he launched his My Space in 1993.

4:50 pm  

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