Back to list



Cambridge and “1968”: Student Power, Radical Dons and Cultural Revolt

Colour head and shoulders photo of David Fowler

20 Jun 2023

  • Start: 17:30
  • End: 19:00

Jock Colville Hall, Churchill College

In the burgeoning historiography about “1968”, Cambridge students and their protests, and the dons’ reactions, have received virtually no scholarly attention. Usually depicted as a tame, imitative affair, Britain’s “1968” has either been seen through the lens of radical campuses like the LSE and Essex; or largely bypassed by a new generation of historians exploring ‘transnational’ student protests, principally in mainland Europe and the USA, in the late 60s. This lecture seeks to challenge current research on the Transnational ’68; by considering the radical student networks that emerged in Cambridge in the late 60s and early 70s that helped to reshape the University of Cambridge; as well as playing a significant part in the cultural movements of the Sixties Decade and beyond.  Building on a major new research project on Oxford, Cambridge and Student Protest around 1968, the lecture introduces some of the radical voices in late 60s Cambridge (dons and students), alongside more high profile figures like Tariq Ali, the Oxford student who became the media spokesperson of Britain’s student revolt. The lecture draws on extensive archival research and over 40 oral interviews undertaken for the author’s new book, Oxford  and Revolution: Student Power, “1968” and a British Cultural Revolt, to be published by Oxford University Press in 2023. We encounter American students abroad, women’s liberation, Vietnam War protests, anticolonialism, and the reimagining of university education. The lecture shines a light on how British universities of the late 60s, including Cambridge, were transformed by the radical movements of the Sixties and the student activists who led them.  

Colour half length photograph of David Fowler sitting at a table


Dr David M Fowler

Dr David M. Fowler, a Life Member of Clare Hall Cambridge, teaches for the Faculty of Education at Cambridge and for Cardiff University. He has published two widely acclaimed books on the history of Youth Culture in twentieth century Britain and scholarly articles on aspects of Modern British Cultural History; including Richard Hoggart and the Study of Youth Culture, Rolf Gardiner, and the Cultural Impact of the Beatles. His new book, Oxford and Revolution: Student Power, “1968” and a British Cultural Revolt is forthcoming with Oxford University Press and due out in 2023.