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E-Seminars: E-Seminar Detail

E-Seminars in This Series

E-Seminar 2
The Politics of Anticommunism

E-Seminar 3
The Stable Fifties

E-Seminar 4
The Subversive Fifties

E-Seminar 5
Kennedy, Johnson, and the Great Society

E-Seminar 6
The Civil-Rights Movement

E-Seminar 7
The Vietnam War

E-Seminar 8
Cultural Revolutions

E-Seminar 9
The Age of Limits

E-Seminar 10
The Rise of the Right

America Since 1945
A Series of Ten E-Seminars

America Since 1945
E-Seminar 1, The Post-New Deal Order

Taught by: Alan Brinkley

E-Seminar Description
This e-seminar examines a period of American life that is both recent and historically rich. What was once routinely known as "the postwar era" is now a period of more than half a century, during which the United States has probably changed more rapidly and profoundly than during any other period of its history. The purpose of this course is to offer an introduction to and a framework for understanding the United States since 1945.

The theme of this e-seminar is the emergence in the early postwar years of a highly nationalistic vision of America. That vision determined much of the nation's politics, intellectual life, and popular culture for two decades. In the 1960s it began to undergo a series of challenges that, after shattering what had become America's prevailing image of itself, created in its place a new image that was more diverse and contested. The earlier, more homogeneous image of America—often defined by the attitudes associated with the term consensus or with the idea of "the American century"—exercised its power not because it was accurate. On the contrary, being decidedly white and middle-class and largely male, it did not wholly reflect the experiences and values of many, perhaps most, Americans. It exercised power because the people who promoted it exercised power, even if not always self-consciously. Much of the story of the second half of the twentieth century, therefore, is about Americans emerging to challenge the elites who had dominated the nation's life until the 1960s, and about the changes that emerged from the ensuing confrontations.

E-Seminar Length:3-5 hours
Start Date:Anytime
Columbia Students, Faculty, Staff, and Alumni:FREE

Interested in this
Go to the e-seminar now*.

Note: Columbia students, faculty, staff, and alumni will need to use their University Network ID (UNI) to access e-seminars.

E-Seminar Objectives | Outline | Instructor's Background | Recommended Reading |
Additional Information |Technical Requirements

E-Seminar Objectives
•    Provide students with access to many different perspectives on recent
American history.

•    Help users make their own judgments about what is important about this key period.

•    Introduce students to media representations from the period.

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1. The American Century Idea
2. Legacies
3. The New Framework
4. The Cold War
5. Containment Policy Tested
6. Allure of the New

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Instructor's Background
Instructor's Background
Alan Brinkley is the Allan Nevins Professor of History at Columbia University in New York, where he has taught since 1991. He is currently Chair of the Department of History. His published works include Voices of Protest: Huey Long, Father Coughlin, and the Great Depression (Knopf, 1982), which won the 1983 National Book Award; The Unfinished Nation: A Concise History of the American People (Knopf, 1992); The End of Reform: New Deal Liberalism in Recession and War (Knopf, 1995); and Liberalism and Its Discontents (Harvard, 1998). He is presently writing a biography of Henry R. Luce, to be published by Knopf.

His essays, articles, and reviews have appeared in scholarly journals and in such periodicals as the New York Review of Books, the New Yorker, the New York Times Book Review, the New York Times Magazine, the New Republic, the Times Literary Supplement, and the London Review of Books. He has received fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson Center, the National Humanities Center, the Media Studies Center, Russell Sage Foundation, and others; and he was the recipient of the Joseph R. Levenson Memorial Teaching Prize at Harvard. He is chairman of the board of trustees of the Century Foundation (formerly the Twentieth Century Fund), a member of the editorial board of the American Prospect, a member of the board of directors of the New York Council for the Humanities, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 1998–99 he was the Harmsworth Professor of American History at Oxford University.

He received his A.B. from Princeton and his Ph.D. from Harvard.

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Recommended Reading
Gaddis, John Lewis.* The United States and the Origins of the Cold War, 1941–1947. New York: Columbia University Press, 1972.

———.* Strategies of Containment. Oxford University Press, 1982.

Kennan, George F. "1925–1950." In George F. Kennan: Memoirs 1925–1950. Rev ed. Knopf, 1983.

LaFeber, Walter. America, Russia, and the Cold War, 1945–1967. 8th ed. McGraw-Hill, 1980. A classic survey of American-Soviet relations.

Leffler, Melvyn P. A Preponderance of Power: National Security, the Truman Administration, and the Cold War. Stanford University Press, 1992. A superb, densely researched history of the policies of the 1940s.

May, Elaine Tyler. Homeward Bound: American Families in the Cold War Era. Rev. ed. Basic Books, 1999.

McCullough, David. Truman. Rev. ed. New York: Touchstone Books, 1993. An elegant biography.

*Both books by Gaddis provide a sound introduction to Cold War history.

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Additional Information
Who should take this course? Everyone interested in understanding more about the current era in American history; history buffs; lifelong learners; those interested in presidential history and the history of American foreign policy.

The course contains a FAQ section with answers to questions Professor Brinkley is frequently asked.

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Technical Requirements
You will need to use a computer with Internet access to complete this course. We recommend the following minimum configurations:

Windows 95, 98, 2000, XP, or NT
64 MB of RAM (128 recommended)
Monitor: 800x600 resolution recommended
Connection: Internet service and 56K modem minimum
Browser: Internet Explorer 4 or above (Internet Explorer 5 strongly recommended) or Netscape 4.7 or above
Sound Card (if you can hear audio you have a sound card)
Plug-ins: RealPlayer 7 or later; Flash Player 5 or later; Acrobat Reader 5 or later
(all plug-ins are free)

MAC OS 8.6 or higher
64 MB of RAM (128 recommended)
Monitor: 800x600 resolution recommended
Connection: Internet service and 56K modem minimum
Browser: Internet Explorer 5 or above or Netscape 4.7 or above
Sound Card (if you can hear audio you have a sound card)
Plug-ins: RealPlayer 7 or later; Flash Player 5 or later; Acrobat Reader 5 or later
(all plug-ins are free)

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