Rag Radio: Historians Doug Rossinow & Julia L. Mickenberg on Austin, The Rag & the New Left

Rossinow's influential 'Politics of Authenticity' tells the story of '60s activism in the U.S. through the lens of the movement in Austin, Texas.

From left, Doug Rossinow, Thorne Dreyer, and Julia Mickenberg. Photo by Alan Pogue.

Thorne Dreyer’s Rag Radio interview with historian and author Doug Rossinow, joined by UT-Austin American Studies Assoc. Prof. Julia L. Mickenberg, was the keynote event of the highly successful 50th Anniversary Rag Reunion and Public Celebration, which took place Oct. 13-16, 2016, at several Austin venues.

Doug Rossinow is the author of The Politics of Authenticity: Liberalism, Christianity, and the New Left in America (1998), an analysis of the New Left using the movement at the University of Texas at Austin as a case study. It is one of the most highly-regarded books about the ‘60s New Left. Doug Rossinow is professor of history at the University of Oslo. A past president of the Peace History Society, he is also the author of Visions of Progress: The Left-Liberal Tradition in America (2008) and The Reagan Era: A History of the 1980s (2015).

Julia L. Mickenberg, who joins us in interviewing Rossinow, is Associate Professor of American Studies and an affiliate of the Center for Women and Gender Studies and the Center for Russian and Eastern European Studies at UT-Austin. She is the author of the award-winning Learning from the Left: Children’s Literature, the Cold War, and Radical Politics in the United States.

The activist movement at the University of Texas during the ’60s and ’70s — and the Austin counterculture — were among the largest and most influential in the nation.

Among topics discussed on the show are why Rossinow chose the New Left in Austin, Texas, as the point of reference for his study; why his focus on Christian existentialism; what he meant by the Austin movement’s “countercultural strategy”; the role played by feminism; the effect of government and vigilante repression on the underground press; and the legacy and accomplishments of Austin activism and the New Left in America.

About The Politics of Authenticity: “Breaking new ground in cultural, political, and social history, The Politics of Authenticity presents a vital reevaluation of the new left student movement of the 1960s… Offering an innovative view of the new left… from the ground up [the book] shows how the movement developed in a campus environment — the University of Texas at Austin, one of the most important new left centers in the United States — and links local events to the national scene.”

Published from 1966 to 1977, The Rag was one of the first, longest-lasting, and most influential of the ’60s-era underground newspapers, and is credited with playing a major role in making Austin weird. Historian Laurence Leamer cited The Rag as “one of the few legendary undergrounds” and the Austin Chronicle‘s Kevin Brass called the paper “a firebrand little troublemaker” that was “a seminal influence in the national underground press movement.” It has been reborn into the digital era as Rag Radio and The Rag Blog.

This remote broadcast was presented before a live audience at the Eastview campus of Austin Community College, 2-3 p.m., Friday, Oct. 14. Tracey Schulz coordinated the remote broadcast and Allan Campbell engineered at the KOOP studios. Bobby Ray Eakin and Greg Ciotti also helped with the production process.

Rragradio250x250Rag Radio is produced in the studios of KOOP 91.7-FM, an all-volunteer, cooperatively-run community radio station in Austin, Texas, in association with The Rag Blog and the New Journalism Project, a Texas 501(c)(3) nonprofit. The host and producer of Rag Radio, Thorne Dreyer, is a prominent Austin-based activist and writer who was a pioneer of the ’60s underground press movement. The show’s engineer and co-producer is Tracey Schulz and the staff photographer is Roger Baker. The syndicated show is broadcast (and streamed) live Fridays, 2-3 p.m. (Central) on KOOP in Austin, is streamed live at Radio Free America, and is later rebroadcast and streamed on WFTE-FM in Mt. Cobb and Scranton, PA., on Houston Pacifica’s KPFT HD-3 90.1-FM, and by KKRN, 88.5-FM in Round Mountain, CA — and is a featured podcast at VT. All Rag Radio podcasts can be found at the Internet Archive. Contact: ragradio@koop.org.



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