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E-Seminars: E-Seminar Detail

E-Seminars in This Series

E-Seminar 1
The Post-New Deal Order

E-Seminar 2
The Politics of Anticommunism

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 3, The Stable Fifties

Taught by: Alan Brinkley

E-Seminar Description
In The Stable Fifties, the third e–seminar in the series America Since 1945, Professor Alan Brinkley examines the shift in American economics and culture that occurred after World War II. While many other combatant countries faced a slow rebuilding period after the war's end, the United States celebrated a vast and steady economic boom that began during the war and continued for the next 20 years. Professor Brinkley examines aspects of American middle–class culture during the Eisenhower years, including the rise of television and the expansion of the suburbs. He also offers a perspective on the Eisenhower presidency.

The series America Since 1945 offers an introduction to and a framework for understanding the United States since the end of World War II. The theme running throughout the series is the emergence in the early postwar years of a highly nationalistic vision of America. This vision determined much of the nation's politics, intellectual life, and popular culture for two decades. It spawned an image of America—often associated with the term consensus or the idea of "the American century"—that was decidedly white, middle class, and usually male. This image did not reflect the experiences and values of many, perhaps most, Americans, but it was persuasive because the people who promoted it exercised a great deal of power over American society. In the 1960s a series of challenges arose that shattered the nation's homogenous image of itself and created a new image that was more diverse and contested. The story of the second half of the twentieth century, therefore, is largely about Americans rising up to challenge the elites who had dominated the nation 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

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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 different perspectives on recent American history.

•    Examine the Eisenhower presidency.

•    Explore the rise of key elements of middle-class American culture of the 1950s.

•    Introduce students to media representations from the period.

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1. Abundance
      The American Middle Class
      Defining the Middle Class
2. Television
      Messages and Sponsors
      Two-Edged Sword
3. The Suburbs
      Conformity and Isolation
4. National Politics
      Ike's Popularity
      Looking to Business
      Military Restraint
5. Conclusion

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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
Ambrose, Stephen. Eisenhower. 2 vols. New York: Simon & Schuster Books, 1983–84.

Jackson, Kenneth T. Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States. New York: Oxford University Press, 1985.

May, Elaine Tyler. Homeward Bound: American Families in the Cold War Era. New York: Basic Books, 1988.

Patterson, James T. Grand Expectations: The United States, 1945–1974. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.

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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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