The Columbia University Oral History Research Office presents author and historian Jonathan Soffer discussing his new book, Ed Koch and the Rebuilding of New York City as part of the year-long public Oral History Workshop Series. The title of Dr. Soffer's presentation, co-sponsored by the Friends of the Libraries, is "Using the Living Archive: Oral History and Historiography of the Late 20th Century of New York." The lecture will take place on Thursday, November 11 at 6:00 p.m. in Butler Library 523 on Columbia's Morningside campus, and is free and open to the public.
In 1978, Ed Koch assumed control of a city plagued by filth, crime, bankruptcy and racial tensions. By the end of his mayoral run in 1989, and despite the Wall Street crash of 1987, his administration had begun rebuilding neighborhoods and infrastructure. For better or worse, Koch's efforts convinced many New Yorkers to embrace a new political order subsidizing business, particularly finance, insurance and real estate and privatizing public space. Ed Koch and the Rebuilding of New York City recasts Koch's legacy through personal and mayoral papers, authorized interviews and oral histories, and plots a history of New York City through two rarely studied, yet crucial decades: the bankruptcy of the 1970s and the recovery and crash of the 1980s.
Jonathan Soffer, born in Albany, New York, became involved in politics by protesting the Vietnam War at age 11. Soffer served as president of The Broadway Democrats at age 21, meeting Ed Koch among many other politicians. Soffer earned a law degree at the University of Denver, and a PhD in History at Columbia University. During his time at Columbia he conducted oral histories for the Oral History Research Office on the history of the Koch Administration. Currently, Soffer is a tenured professor at NYU-Polytechnic Institute, where he is a specialist in postwar American politics.
The Oral History Workshop Series is a year-long series of public seminars on the wide range of issues raised by a consideration of how oral history methodologies impact disciplines in the social sciences as well as the humanities. Scholars who have used oral history and narrative analysis in their research will be drawn from the New York area. All workshops are free and open to the public though they function as a part of the required course series for Oral History Masters Program students.
A book signing and reception will follow the presentation. For more information regarding this event or to attend, please respond to firstname.lastname@example.org. A complete schedule of the Oral History Workshop Series is available here.
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