Sir Simon Schama
Schama in 2013
|Born||Simon Michael Schama|
13 February 1945
Marylebone, London, England
|Occupation||Academic, Art historian|
|Residence||Briarcliff Manor, New York, U.S.|
|Education||Haberdashers' Aske's Boys' School|
|Alma mater||Christ's College, Cambridge|
|Notable awards|| Wolfson History Prize |
Leo Gershoy Award
Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature
Sir Simon Michael Schama, CBE, FRSL, FBA ( // ; born 13 February 1945) is an English historian specialising in art history, Dutch history, Jewish history and French history. He is a University Professor of History and Art History at Columbia University, New York.
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is a British order of chivalry, rewarding contributions to the arts and sciences, work with charitable and welfare organisations, and public service outside the civil service. It was established on 4 June 1917 by King George V and comprises five classes across both civil and military divisions, the most senior two of which make the recipient either a knight if male or dame if female. There is also the related British Empire Medal, whose recipients are affiliated with, but not members of, the order.
Fellowship of the British Academy (FBA) is an award granted by the British Academy to leading academics for their distinction in the humanities and social sciences. There are three kinds of fellowship
Art history is the study of objects of art in their historical development and stylistic contexts; that is genre, design, format, and style. The study includes painting, sculpture, architecture, ceramics, furniture, and other decorative objects.
He first came to public attention with his history of the French Revolution titled Citizens , published in 1989.In the United Kingdom, he is perhaps best known for writing and hosting the 15-part BBC television documentary series A History of Britain broadcast between 2000 and 2002.
The French Revolution was a period of far-reaching social and political upheaval in France and its colonies beginning in 1789. The Revolution overthrew the monarchy, established a republic, catalyzed violent periods of political turmoil, and finally culminated in a dictatorship under Napoleon who brought many of its principles to areas he conquered in Western Europe and beyond. Inspired by liberal and radical ideas, the Revolution profoundly altered the course of modern history, triggering the global decline of absolute monarchies while replacing them with republics and liberal democracies. Through the Revolutionary Wars, it unleashed a wave of global conflicts that extended from the Caribbean to the Middle East. Historians widely regard the Revolution as one of the most important events in human history.
Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution is a book by the historian Simon Schama, published in 1989, the bicentenary of the French Revolution.
"The terror," declared Schama in the book, "was merely 1789 with a higher body count; violence ... was not just an unfortunate side effect ... it was the Revolution's source of collective energy. It was what made the Revolution revolutionary." In short, “From the very beginning [...] violence was the motor of revolution.” Schama considers that the French Revolutionary Wars were the logical corollary of the universalistic language of the Declaration of the Rights of Man, and of the universalistic principles of the Revolution which led to inevitable conflict with old-regime Europe.
Schama was knighted in the 2018 Queen's Birthday Honours List.
Schama was born in Marylebone, London.His mother, Gertie (née Steinberg), was from an Ashkenazi Jewish family (from Kaunas, present-day Lithuania), and his father, Arthur Schama, was of Sephardi Jewish background (from Smyrna, present-day İzmir in Turkey), later moving through Moldova and Romania.
Marylebone is an area in the West End of London, England, which is part of the City of Westminster.
Kaunas is the second-largest city in Lithuania and the historical centre of Lithuanian economic, academic, and cultural life. Kaunas was the biggest city and the centre of a county in Trakai Municipality of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania since 1413. In the Russian Empire, it was the capital of the Kaunas Governorate from 1843 to 1915.
Lithuania, officially the Republic of Lithuania, is a country in the Baltic region of Europe. Since its independence, Lithuania is considered to be one of the Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, to the east of Sweden and Denmark. It is bordered by Latvia to the north, Belarus to the east and south, Poland to the south, and Kaliningrad Oblast to the southwest. Lithuania has an estimated population of 2.8 million people as of 2019, and its capital and largest city is Vilnius. Other major cities are Kaunas and Klaipėda. Lithuanians are Baltic people. The official language, Lithuanian, along with Latvian, is one of only two living languages in the Baltic branch of the Indo-European language family.
In the mid-1940s, the family moved to Southend-on-Sea in Essex before moving back to London. Schama writes of this period in the introduction to his 1996 book Landscape & Memory (pp. 3–4):
Southend-on-Sea, commonly referred to simply as Southend, is a town and wider unitary authority area with borough status in southeastern Essex, England. It lies on the north side of the Thames Estuary, 40 miles (64 km) east of central London. It is bordered to the north by Rochford and to the west by Castle Point. It is home to the longest leisure pier in the world, Southend Pier. London Southend Airport is located 1.5 NM north of the town centre.
I had no hill [previously alluding to that in Puck of Pook's Hill ], but I did have the Thames. It was not the upstream river that the poets in my Palgrave claimed burbled betwixt mossy banks. [...] It was the low, gull-swept estuary, the marriage bed of salt and fresh water, stretching as far as I could see from my northern Essex bank, toward a thin black horizon on the other side. That would be Kent, the sinister enemy who always seemed to beat us in the County Cricket Championship. [...]
Puck of Pook's Hill is a fantasy book by Rudyard Kipling, published in 1906, containing a series of short stories set in different periods of English history. It can count both as historical fantasy – since some of the stories told of the past have clear magical elements, and as contemporary fantasy – since it depicts a magical being active and practising his magic in the England of the early 1900s when the book was written.
The Golden Treasury of English Songs and Lyrics is a popular anthology of English poetry, originally selected for publication by Francis Turner Palgrave in 1861. It was considerably revised, with input from Tennyson, about three decades later. Palgrave excluded all poems by poets then still alive.
Kent is a county in South East England and one of the home counties. It borders Greater London to the north west, Surrey to the west and East Sussex to the south west. The county also shares borders with Essex along the estuary of the River Thames, and with the French department of Pas-de-Calais through the Channel Tunnel. The county town is Maidstone.
In 1956, Schama won a scholarship to the private Haberdashers' Aske's Boys' School in Cricklewood, (from 1961 Elstree, Hertfordshire). He then studied history at Christ's College, Cambridge, where he was taught by John H. Plumb. He graduated from the University of Cambridge with a Starred First in 1966.
Schama worked for short periods as a lecturer in history at Cambridge, where he was a Fellow and Director of Studies in History at Christ's College. He then taught for some time at Oxford, where he was made a Fellow of Brasenose College in 1976, specialising in the French Revolution.
At this time, Schama wrote his first book, Patriots and Liberators, which won the Wolfson History Prize. The book was originally intended as a study of the French Revolution, but as published in 1977, it focused on the effect of the Patriottentijd revolution of the 1780s in the Netherlands, and its aftermath.
His second book, Two Rothschilds and the Land of Israel (1978), is a study of the Zionist aims of Edmond and James Rothschild.
In 1980, Schama took up a chair at Harvard University. His next book, The Embarrassment of Riches (1987), again focused on Dutch history.Schama interpreted the ambivalences that informed the Dutch Golden Age of the 17th century, held in balance between the conflicting imperatives, to live richly and with power, or to live a godly life. The iconographic evidence that Schama draws upon, in 317 illustrations, of emblems and propaganda that defined Dutch character, prefigured his expansion in the 1990s as a commentator on art and visual culture.
Citizens (1989), written at speed to a publisher's commission, finally saw the publication of his long-awaited study of the French Revolution, and won the 1990 NCR Book Award. Its view that the violence of the Terror was inherent from the start of the Revolution, however, has received serious negative criticism.
He appeared as an on-screen expert in Michael Wood's 1989 PBS series, "Art of the Western World" as a presenting art historian, commenting on paintings by Diego Velázquez, Rembrandt, and Johannes Vermeer.
In 1991, he published Dead Certainties (Unwarranted Speculations),a relatively slender work of unusual structure and point-of-view in that it looked at two widely reported deaths a hundred years apart, that of British Army General James Wolfe in 1759 – and the famous 1770 painting depicting the event by Benjamin West – and that of George Parkman, murdered uncle of the better known 19th-century American historian Francis Parkman.
Schama mooted some possible (invented) connections between the two cases, exploring the historian's inability "ever to reconstruct a dead world in its completeness however thorough or revealing the documentation", and speculatively bridging "the teasing gap separating a lived event and its subsequent narration." Not all readers absorbed the nuance of the title: it received a very mixed critical and academic reception. Traditional historians in particular denounced Schama's integration of fact and conjecture to produce a seamless narrative,but later assessments took a more relaxed view of the experiment.
It was an approach soon taken up by such historical writers as Peter Ackroyd, David Taylor, and Richard Holmes.
Sales in hardback exceeded those of Schama's earlier works, as shown by relative rankings by amazon.com. [ original research? ]
Schama's next book, Landscape and Memory (1995), focused on the relationship between physical environment and folk memory, separating the components of landscape as wood, water and rock, enmeshed in the cultural consciousness of collective "memory" embodied in myths, which Schama finds to be expressed outwardly in ceremony and text. More personal and idiosyncratic than Dead Certainties, this book was more traditionally structured and better-defined in its approach. Despite mixed reviews, the book was a commercial success and won numerous prizes.
Plaudits came from the art world rather than from traditional academia. Schama became art critic for The New Yorker in 1995. He held the position for three years, dovetailing his regular column with professorial duties at Columbia University; a selection of his essays on art for the magazine, chosen by Schama himself, was published in 2005 under the title Hang Ups.During this time, Schama also produced a lavishly illustrated Rembrandt's Eyes, another critical and commercial success. Despite the book's title, it contrasts the biographies of Rembrandt van Rijn and Peter Paul Rubens.
In 1995, Schama wrote and presented a series called Landscape and Memory to accompany his book of the same name. Schama returned to the UK in 2000, having been commissioned by the BBC to produce a series of television documentary programmes on British history as part of their Millennium celebrations, under the title A History of Britain.
Schama wrote and presented the episodes himself, in a friendly and often jocular style with his highly characteristic delivery, and was rewarded with excellent reviews and unexpectedly high ratings. There has been, however, some irritation and criticism expressed by a group of historians about Schama's condensed recounting of the British Isles' history on this occasion, particularly by those specialising in the pre-Anglo-Saxon history of Insular Celtic civilisation.Three series were made, totalling 15 episodes, covering the complete span of British history up until 1965; it went on to become one of the BBC's best-selling documentary series on DVD. Schama also wrote a trilogy of tie-in books for the show, which took the story up to the year 2000; there is some debate as to whether the books are the tie-in product for the TV series, or the other way around. The series also had some popularity in the United States when it was first shown on the History Channel.
In 2001, Schama received a CBE. In 2003, he signed a new contract with the BBC and HarperCollins to produce three new books and two accompanying TV series. Worth £3 million (around US$5.3m), it represents the biggest advance deal ever for a TV historian. The first result of the deal was a book and TV show entitled Rough Crossings: Britain, the Slaves and the American Revolution,dealing in particular with the proclamation issued during the Revolutionary War by Lord Dunmore offering slaves from rebel plantations freedom in return for service to the crown.
In 2006 the BBC broadcast a new TV series, Simon Schama's Power of Art which, with an accompanying book, was presented and written by Schama. It marks a return to art history for him, treating eight artists through eight key works: Caravaggio's David with the Head of Goliath, Bernini's Ecstasy of St Theresa , Rembrandt's Conspiracy of Claudius Civilis, Jacques-Louis David's The Death of Marat, J. M. W. Turner's The Slave Ship , Vincent van Gogh's Wheat Field with Crows , Picasso's Guernica and Mark Rothko's Seagram Murals.It was also shown on PBS in the United States.
In October 2008, on the eve of the presidential election won by Barack Obama, the BBC broadcast a four-part television series called The American Future: A History presented and written by Schama. In March 2009, Schama presented a BBC Radio 4 show entitled Baseball and Me, both exploring the history of the game and describing his own personal support of the Boston Red Sox.
In 2010, Schama presented a series of ten talks for the BBC Radio 4 series A Point of View:
In 2011 the BBC commissioned Simon Schama to write and present a five-part series called A History of the Jews for BBC Two for transmission in 2012,The title became The Story of the Jews and broadcast was delayed until September 2013. Writing in The Observer , Andrew Anthony called it "an astonishing achievement, a TV landmark."
In 2018, Simon Schama wrote and presented five of the nine episodes of Civilisations , a reboot of the 1969 series by Kenneth Clark.
Schama is married to Virginia Papaioannou, a geneticist from California; they have two children, Chloe and Gabriel.As of 2014, he resides in Briarcliff Manor, New York.
Schama is a supporter of the Labour Party,as well as the cross-party political movement More United.
In August 2014, Schama was one of 200 public figures who were signatories to a letter to The Guardian expressing their hope that Scotland would vote to remain part of the United Kingdom in September's referendum on that issue.
In November 2017, Schama joined Simon Sebag Montefiore and Howard Jacobson in writing a letter about their concern over antisemitism in the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn's leadership, with particular reference to a growth in Anti-Zionism and its "antisemitic characteristics".
Schama was critical of a call by British novelist John Berger for an academic boycott of Israel over its policies towards the Palestinians. Writing in The Guardian in an article co-authored with Anthony Julius, Schama compared Berger's academic boycott to policies adopted by Nazi Germany, saying: "This is not the first boycott call directed at Jews. On 1 April 1933, only weeks after he came to power, Hitler ordered a boycott of Jewish shops, banks, offices and department stores."
In 2006 on the BBC, Schama debated with Vivienne Westwood the morality of Israel's actions in the Israel-Lebanon War.He described Israel's bombing of Lebanese city centres as unhelpful to Israel's attempt to "get rid of" Hezbollah. He said: "Of course the spectacle and suffering makes us grieve. Who wouldn't grieve? But it's not enough to do that. We've got to understand. You've even got to understand Israel's point of view."
Schama was a supporter of President Barack Obamaand a critic of George W. Bush. He appeared on the BBC's coverage of the 2008 US presidential election, clashing with John Bolton.
Anita Brookner was an English award-winning novelist and art historian. She was Slade Professor of Fine Art at the University of Cambridge from 1967 to 1968 and was the first woman to hold this visiting professorship. She was awarded the 1984 Man Booker Prize for her novel Hotel du Lac.
Civilisation—in full, Civilisation: A Personal View by Kenneth Clark—is a television documentary series written and presented by the art historian Kenneth Clark.
Jan Tomasz Gross is a Polish-American sociologist and historian. He is the Norman B. Tomlinson Professor of War and Society, and Professor of History at Princeton University. He is known for his work about Polish history, particularly about Polish-Jewish relations during the World War II.
Lisa Anne Jardine was a British historian of the early modern period.
Howard Eric Jacobson is a British novelist and journalist. He is known for writing comic novels that often revolve around the dilemmas of British Jewish characters. He is a Man Booker Prize winner.
A History of Britain is a BBC documentary series written and presented by Simon Schama, first transmitted in the United Kingdom from 30 September 2000.
Simon Jonathan Sebag Montefiore is a British historian, television presenter and author of popular history books and novels.
Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn was a Dutch draughtsman, painter and printmaker. An innovative and prolific master in three media, he is generally considered one of the greatest visual artists in the history of art and the most important in Dutch art history. Unlike most Dutch masters of the 17th century, Rembrandt's works depict a wide range of style and subject matter, from portraits and self-portraits to landscapes, genre scenes, allegorical and historical scenes, biblical and mythological themes as well as animal studies. His contributions to art came in a period of great wealth and cultural achievement that historians call the Dutch Golden Age, when Dutch art, although in many ways antithetical to the Baroque style that dominated Europe, was extremely prolific and innovative, and gave rise to important new genres. Like many artists of the Dutch Golden Age, such as Jan Vermeer of Delft, Rembrandt was also an avid art collector and dealer.
Rough Crossings: Britain, the Slaves and the American Revolution is a history book by Simon Schama. It was the 2006 National Book Critics Circle Award winner for general nonfiction. A 2007 drama-documentary was based on it.
Power of Art is a BBC documentary series written and presented by Simon Schama. The series was broadcast in October and November 2006 on BBC2. It aired in Poland on TVP2 in February and March 2008, on PBS in the US and re -broadcast in September 2008 on TVOntario in Canada, ABC1 in Australia, Australia Network in the Asia-Pacific region, TV ONE in New Zealand and on ET1 in Greece. It was also translated to Persian and aired on BBC Persian in Iran, as well in Italy for Sky Italia on the channel Sky Arte. Each of the eight one-hour episodes examines the biography of an artist and one of his key works through Schama's considerations and occasional reenactments:
David Belton is a director, writer, and film producer. His experiences as a BBC reporter covering the 1994 Rwandan Genocide led him to write the original story and produce the film Shooting Dogs, directed by Michael Caton-Jones, which dramatizes the events at the Ecole Technique Officielle. It was retitled Beyond the Gates for its 2007 U.S. release. He has directed documentaries and drama-documentaries and documentaries for PBS and dramas for the BBC. His book, When the Hills Ask for Your Blood was published in January 2014 by Doubleday.
Peter Mandler, FBA is a British historian and academic specialising in 19th and 20th century British history, particularly cultural history and the history of the social sciences. He is Professor in Modern Cultural History at the University of Cambridge and Bailey fellow in History at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge.
Aristotle with a Bust of Homer, also known as Aristotle Contemplating a Bust of Homer, is an oil-on-canvas painting by Rembrandt.
Michael Goldfarb is an American author, journalist and broadcaster based in London since 1985. He is best known for his work for National Public Radio.
Ian Jeffrey is an English art historian, writer and curator.
The Invention of the Jewish People is a study of the historiography of the Jewish people by Shlomo Sand, Professor of History at Tel Aviv University. It has generated a heated controversy. The book was in the best-seller list in Israel for nineteen weeks.
The Story of the Jews is a television series, in five parts, presented by British historian Simon Schama. It was broadcast in the United Kingdom on BBC Two in September 2013 and in the United States on PBS in March and April 2014.
The Leo Gershoy Award is a book prize awarded by the American Historical Association for the best publication in English dealing with the history of Europe in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Endowed in 1975 by the Gershoy family and first awarded two years later, the prize commemorates Leo Gershoy, professor of French history at New York University. It was awarded biennially until 1985, and annually thereafter.
The Story of the Jews is a book by British historian Simon Schama, which is being published in three volumes. The first volume, entitled Finding the Words 1000BCE – 1492CE, was published in the United Kingdom by Bodley Head in September 2013. The second volume, entitled Belonging: The Story of the Jews 1492–1900, was published by Bodley Head in October 2017.
David Adetayo Olusoga is a British Nigerian popular historian, writer, broadcaster, presenter and film-maker. He is Professor of Public History at the University of Manchester. He has presented historical documentaries on the BBC and contributed to The One Show and The Guardian. He is an expert on military history, race and slavery. In June 2018 he joined the board of the Scott Trust Limited, the company which owns the Guardian Media Group.
[...] drawing absolute conclusions from [...] fragments of evidence
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