Thursday, November 24, 2011

Meet Prof. Mark Gilbert

History. How old fashioned, right?

Well, no.

Just try to make sense of what is happening in the euro zone without knowing some history. How many of you are convinced you have a firm understanding of how the Arab Spring came about without some knowledge of history?

As SAIS, there is no history concentration per se. History is intertwined with just about everything that is studied. It is a thread that stretches through every concentration.

Prof. Mark Gilbert grew up near Lincoln in England. He teaches intellectual and political history at SAIS Bologna. He is the latest professor to be profiled in this blog.

What courses are you teaching?
"Intellectuals & Politics" and "The End of European Imperialism" in the Fall Semester; "Peace & War" and "Europe in the Cold War" in the Spring Semester

Your degrees?
BA in Politics from Durham University; Ph.D in contemporary history from the University of Wales

Where have you taught?
Dickinson College (Pennsylvania), University of Bath (UK), University of Trento (Italy)

How long have you been teaching at SAIS Bologna?
Since 1999 as an adjunct at varous times; since September 2010 as a full-time member of staff

A link to a recent publication/oped/academic work by you?

Anything special about SAIS Bologna?
The sense of community, definitely. And not just between current faculty and students. The alumni really care about the Center's future and are a pleasure to meet.

Anything special about Bologna?
The warmth and generosity of the Bolognesi, which belongs to another age. The reds and ochres of the walls at sunset. Mind you, it is less clean and tidy than it used to be.

Your favorite book?
"War and Peace" or "Homage to Catalonia". I can never decide between the two. Anything by Tom Wolfe. Jane Austen, C.P. Snow, Tolkien, Leonardo Sciascia's "Candido", Vaclav Havel. Biographies. The first volume of Robert Skidelsky's biography of Keynes is a marvel. So is Michael Ignatieff's biography of Isaiah Berlin, which is a book I should have loved to have written myself.  

Mountain walking, snowshoeing, listening to jazz, theatre, squash before my knees caved in, cycling since. Travelling, of course.

A quote?
I'm doing this from memory, but Giovanni Guareschi, the author of the Don Camillo stories, says somewhere that "people in the city rush everywhere, hastening to save every single second and don't realize they are throwing a lifetime away." I think this is true and it is worse now than when he was writing (the 1950s).

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