Ruth Rosen Interview: Conversations with History; Institute of International Studies, UC Berkeley

The Women's Movement in Historical Perspective: Conversation with Ruth Rosen, historian and columnist; 12/5/01 by Harry Kreisler.
Photo by Jane Scherr

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If students were to watch this interview and they wanted to extract a lesson from your life, this odyssey that you've shared with us, what advice might you offer them?

When I was about sixteen or seventeen, I read about living an examined life, examining the assumptions that you live by, examining the meaning of your life, giving meaning to your life by taking life seriously, taking projects seriously, by taking issues seriously. I think that what I've tried to do in my life is live an examined life, constantly questioning what I believe, what I think, changing my mind, and being critical. I think that's given me the greatest satisfaction. It hasn't felt like an empty life. I've had a lot of fun, but I've also had a very serious life too. So living an examined life is, to me, the lesson of my life.

And I guess history is also important?

History is certainly part of it, because you can't really think about the present and examine it without knowing how you got here. That's true for every individual life as well as for collective life. Everyone needs to understand themselves -- where they've been, how they came to be, how their parents, their life, their school and their education affected them. But people need to know how their culture and their society and their government has been formed. And that's important too.

Ruth, on that note, I want to thank you very much for taking the time to be with us today and talk about your book, and your journey.

Thank you.

And thank you very much for joining us for this Conversation with History.

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