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Sex, Drugs, and Rock ‘n’ Roll?: Understanding the Revolutionary 1960s

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Course DatesWeeksMeeting TimesStatusInstructor(s)CRN
July 28, 2014 - August 08, 20142M-F 9A-11:50AOpenBenjamin Holtzman10628

Course Description

The 1960s transformed America. Many current conceptions we take for granted " about gender, race, dress, music, the environment, government, and sexual expression " can be traced to this revolutionary decade.

What really happened during the 1960s? How did it become such a transformative decade? Why did so many groups " students, women, African Americans, queer people " forcefully assert their place in American society? How did a great unraveling of trust in government begin to come undone during this time? Why did popular culture " music, media, and television " become unrecognizable from years before? How did a foreign war come seemingly to divide the nation in half? In what ways did the 1960s help set the stage for the ascent of conservatism in recent decades?

This course digs into these and similar questions by examining the social, cultural, and political struggles in the U.S. from roughly the mid-1950s through the mid-1970s. We will discuss topics including the civil rights movement and Black Power; the Vietnam War and the antiwar movement; the rise of both the New Left and the New Right; the counterculture and cultural change; and the emergence of feminism and anti-feminism. We will seek to understand why these issues all occurred at roughly the same time, the vast changes in American society they helped to usher in, and how they have shaped America today.

The course not only will provide students with a more thorough understanding of American history in the period after World War Two, but will also provide an enriched appreciation of the roots of many contemporary issues, conflicts, and social norms. Students will also develop critical skills for success in A.P and college courses, including the ability to effectively: analyze primary and secondary documents for argument and context; understand and critically evaluate arguments about the past; develop your own argument and to select relevant examples from course materials to support it.