English C136

Upper Division Coursework: Topics in American Studies: The 1950's

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Fall 2005 Loewinsohn, Ron
Loewinsohn, Ron
TTh 2-3:30 100 GPB

Other Readings and Media

Burroughs, W.: Naked Lunch; Ellison, R.: Invisible Man; Ginsberg, A.: Howl and Other Poems; Metalious, G.: Peyton Place; Salinger, J.D.: The Catcher in the Rye; Williams, T.: A Streetcar Named Desire


"This class will explore the American 1950's through a sampling of history, literature, movies, and the popular culture of the decade, trying to understand some of its concerns and its contradictions. A period of massive conformity (""The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit), it also produced prophets and rebels (Ginsberg, Williams, Burroughs); a time of repression and apartheid, it also produced the Civil Rights movement, Elvis Presley, and Brown vs. Board of Education. We will try to understand the kinds and the causes of the combination of nostalgia and paranoia that characterized this Cold War period. We will also try to understand and appreciate some of the cruel consequences of truly massive mass production and of the ""mass culture"" that developed at this time. We will try to appreciate how the experience of WWII -- its lessons and its traumas-- continued to affect Americans in the 1950's. The class will consist mostly of lectures, though we will watch some documentary videos. I'll make every effort to accommodate as much discussion as class size will allow.

Required Writing: Two short papers (6-8 pp) and a final exam. The two short papers, averaged together, will count for 50% of your final grade. The final exam will count for the remaining 50%. "

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