As I have noted earlier, it was my great delight this past March to attend a symposium at Rice University paying tribute to the career and legacy of Thomas L. Haskell. The speakers represented a gathering of truly extraordinary scholars, all united in expressing their admiration and gratitude for — and, more importantly, to — their colleague, mentor and friend.
For most of the speakers there, Haskell had served in all three roles at one time or another — sometimes, I gathered, serving in all three roles at once. This seemed to me to be the case especially for those speakers who had been Haskell’s fellow PhD students at Stanford. Rosalind Rosenberg of Barnard College, James Mohr of the University of Oregon, George Forgie of the University of Texas at Austin, Michael Johnson of Johns Hopkins University, and James Kloppenberg of Harvard University — these scholars were PhD students at Stanford from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s. Some of them preceded Haskell through the PhD program and some followed him. But all were there to thank him for how much they had learned from him beginning from their days in graduate school and continuing throughout their careers.
I am pleased to share with our readers some of the remarks that James Kloppenberg made in his talk, titled “History as Moral Inquiry.” These excerpts are not taken from a manuscript of his talk, because there wasn’t one — Kloppenberg spoke from notes sometimes, and sometimes simply by heart. He certainly spoke from the heart, as did his colleagues. And while they were speaking, for the whole conference, I was sitting in the back row, writing everything down as fast as I could. So before writing this post, I sent Prof. Kloppenberg my notes to make sure that I had heard him correctly. So, with his kind permission, below is a very condensed version of some of the main points Kloppenberg made in his tribute to Tom Haskell. Continue reading