History | The Sixties
A382 | 27790 | McGerr

A portion of the above class reserved for majors
Above class open to undergraduates and Education MA’s only

The decade that tore apart Cold-War American society. The course
begins with the widespread uneasiness about power, affluence, and
identity at the close of the 1950s.  We will then trace the rise and
fall of the confident liberalism that believed the nation could “pay
any price” and “bear any burden” in order to stop communism abroad
and create a “Great Society” at home.  We will focus particularly on
the challenges that destroyed this liberal agenda: civil rights and
black power, the Vietnam War, the counter culture and youth protest,
feminist activism, the sexual revolution, de-industrialization, and
the globalization of the economy.  The course finishes with the more
conservative order that emerged in the early 1970s to deal with the
conflicting realities of limited national power and wealth, on one
hand, and rising demands for rights and opportunity, on the other.

In exploring this tumultuous period of American history, students
will develop (1) their critical, analytical skills by closely
examining different kinds of historical evidence and (2) their
expression of ideas by writing short papers, quizzes, and tests.
Assignments, which average 65 pages a week, include a variety of on-
line primary sources, a film ("The Graduate"), and a textbook
(Maurice Isserman and Michael Kazin, "America Divided: The Civil War
of the 1960s," 3rd ed.).   Each student will write three quizzes,
two short papers (ca. 3 pages), two in-class tests, and a final

There are no prerequisites for this course, which is open to
undergraduates from freshmen to seniors.