Mitzman, Arthur Benjamin 1931-

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MITZMAN, Arthur Benjamin 1931-

PERSONAL: Born September 18, 1931, in Newark, NJ; married, 1956; children: two. Education: Columbia University, B.S., 1956, M.A., 1959, Brandeis University, M.A., 1959, Ph.D. (history), 1963.

ADDRESSES: Office—Historisch Seminarium, University of Amsterdam, Herengracht 286, Amsterdam-C, Netherlands.

CAREER: Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, Brooklyn, NY, instructor in history, 1962-64; Goddard College, Plainfield, VT, instructor in history, 1964-65; University of Rochester, Rochester, NY, assistant professor of history, 1965-69; Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia, associate professor of social theory, 1969-71; University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands, professor of history, 1971—, emeritus professor of modern history.

MEMBER: American Historical Association.


The Iron Cage: An Historical Interpretation of Max Weber, Alfred A. Knopf (New York, NY), 1969; with new introduction by the author, preface by Lewis A. Coser, Transaction Books (New Brunswick, NJ), 1985.

Sociology and Estrangement: Three Sociologists of Imperial Germany, Alfred A. Knopf (New York, NY), 1973; with new introduction by the author, Transaction Books (New Brunswick, NJ), 1987.

Michelet, Historian: Rebirth and Romanticism in Nineteenth-Century France, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 1990.

Michelet ou la subversion du passé: Quatre leçons au Collège de France, Boutique de l'histoire (Paris, France), 1999.

Prometheus Revisited: The Quest for Global Justice in the Twenty-first Century, University of Massachusetts Press (Amherst, MA), 2003.

Contributor to Encyclopaedia Britannica. Contributor to history and sociology journals.

SIDELIGHTS: Commenting on Arthur Mitzman's psychobiography titled Michelet, Historian: Rebirth and Romanticism in Nineteenth-Century France, Edward K. Kaplan offered a rather extensive review and summary of the text for Clio: "This fascinating book successfully combines literary, psychological, sociological, and historical analysis as it traces the development of Jules Michelet (1798-1874), France's exemplary populist historian. Arthur Mitzman's accomplishment is significant, for his emphasis on Michelet's Le Peuple (1846), the seven-volume Histoire de la Revolution, (1847-1853), and Le Banquet (written in 1854), defines how the 'artist-historian' became an ideological model of the Third Republic." Kaplan explained that the chronological order of Mitzman's book "traces in remarkable detail the conditions under which Michelet wrote his most influential works.... Mitzman's subtle and detailed biography of Michelet's crucial middle years would have pleased his subject who strove, himself, to render, in his vivid and subjective histories, the inseparability of his nation's intimate and crucial events."

Irene Collins explained in the English Historical Review that Michelet's reputation as one of France's finest historians is partially because of his heavy influence on nineteenth-century French thought and his encouragement of the myths surrounding the French Revolution. Among his peers, Michelet's legacy is the strides he made in the field of historiography, considering issues such as the historian's relation to his subject and the psychological elements of historical trends and events. Collins concluded that students of European history "have reason to be grateful to Mitzman for untangling the threads which made up the complicated skein of thought known as social romanticism, for explaining the connection between Michelet's social and historical ideas, and for many fascinating insights into his view of nationhood." In Journal of European Studies Hazel Mills wrote, "Mitzman's book will appeal more to the specialist than the general reader, but it is vigorously entertaining, and represents something of a landmark in the development of psycho-history."

Prometheus Revisited: The Quest for Global Justice in the Twenty-first Century addresses the interpretation of the myth of Prometheus by the industrial world as a metaphor for humankind's dominance over nature through technology, industrialization, and human resourcefulness. In his book, Mitzman turns this perspective on its ear, pointing out that many European romantics, especially the English poet Shelley, defined the Promethean myth as a symbiotic relationship between humankind and nature. Mitzman purports that the growth and power premise behind socialism, nationalism, and consumer capitalism suppresses and suffocates the original impetus of Promethean creativity. He also believes that the inability of our ecology to sustain unbridled exploitation, along with the ever-widening socioeconomic division—both of which are created by the modern Promethean perspective—threaten the existence of all humankind. While the globalization mentality of this age may seem irreversible, Mitzman explores the possibility of attaining an entirely different world view, one in which individual communities are completely self-governing, creativity is encouraged and valued, and the premise behind economy outstrips the current mentality of scarcity and insecurity.



Clio, fall 1992, Edward K. Kaplan, review of Michelet, Historian: Rebirth and Romanticism in Nineteenth-Century France, p. 91.

English Historical Review, February 1994, Irene Collins, review of Michelet, Historian, p. 217.

Journal of European Studies, December 1992, Hazel Mills, review of Michelet, Historian, p. 357.*