January 29, 2015

The Center takes great pleasure in announcing the autobiography of Neil J. Smelser, University Professor Emeritus of Sociology and past Center Director.  Entitled Wanderlust in Academia, the autobiography is available on-line at the Center’s eScholarship site. 

The title reflects a life and career that followed multiple paths: teaching and research in UC Berkeley’s Department of Sociology; service to the campus and the University of California as a whole in the Academic Senate and beyond; and national service to the profession of sociology and to the world of foundations and public policy.  He was inspired to write Wanderlust in Academia  after engaging in interviews with the University’s Regional Oral History Office  (see “Neil Smelser: Distinguished Sociologist, University Professor and Servant to the Public.”  Interviewer Lisa Rubens observes that, “…animating all his work is an effort to understand and explain human behavior and experience to himself and his many publics.”  In his Foreword to the oral history, Jeffrey C. Alexander comments further, “His story spans the entire second half of the 20th century, and it is still going strong.  It recounts intellectual and civic accomplishment of the highest order…”  In writing Wanderlust in Academia, Professor Smelser knitted disparate themes across the span of his life, distinguishing the threads of his experience as they formed a complex whole.