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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 3
The Stable 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 4, The Subversive Fifties

Taught by: Alan Brinkley

E-Seminar Description
In The Subversive Fifties, the fourth e-seminar in the series America Since 1945, the eminent historian Alan Brinkley discusses a variety of early counterculture movements—literary, social, and environmental—whose origins date back to the 1950s and early 1960s. He also covers the roots of the civil-rights movement, discussing the Montgomery bus boycott, in which Martin Luther King Jr. first gained national attention.

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

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
•    Inform students about an alternative culture that was alive and well in the 1950s.

•    Examine the roots from the 1950s and early 1960s of key movements—such as the women's movement and the environmental movement—that became prominent in the 1970s.

•    Trace the beginning and evolution of the civil-rights movement.

•    Introduce students to media representations from the period that illustrate the subversive side of the 1950s.

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1. Disillusionment
2. Other Americans
      Pressured to Conform
      The Beats
3. Environmental Critique
      Pollution and Health
4. Feminism
      Two Different Spheres
      A More Complex Problem
5. Poverty
      Structural Poverty
      Why the Attention?
6. Segregation
      Brown v. Board of Education
7. 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
Carson, Rachel. Silent Spring. New York: Fawcett Crest, 1964.

Friedan, Betty. The Feminine Mystique. New York: Norton, 1963. Reprint, with an introduction by Anna Quindlen, 2001.

Harrington, Michael. The Other America: Poverty in the United States. New York: Macmillan, 1962. Reprint, with a new introduction by Irving Howe, New York: Collier Books, Macmillan, 1994.

Kerouac, Jack. On the Road. New York: Viking, 1957, 1997.

King, Martin Luther, Jr. Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story. New York: Harper, 1958.

Mills, C. Wright. White Collar: The American Middle Classes. New York: Oxford University Press, 1951.

Riesman, David, in collaboration with Reuel Denney and Nathan Glazer. The Lonely Crowd: A Study of the Changing American Character. New Haven, Conn: Yale University Press, 1950. Abridged and rev. ed., 2001.

Whyte, William. The Organization Man. New York, Simon and Schuster, 1956.

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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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