L384 1984 SPERBER
Studies in American Culture

7:15p-8:30p MW (30) 3 cr.

TOPIC: YOUTH CULTURE IN THE 1950S

This course focuses on literary, journalistic, scholarly, and visual treatments of American youth culture in a crucial decade of this century, the 1950s. We will use a number of books and articles for background information, including David Halberstam's The Fifties, and we will read some fiction, non-fiction, and poetry of the time, including Jack Kerouac's On the Road, Allen Ginsberg's Howl, Norman Mailer's The Negro as White Hipster, and Philip Roth's Goodbye Columbus. In addition, we will view a number of films on the various sub-topics in the course: The Wild One, Rebel Without a Cause, and Next Stop Greenwich Village on teen rebellion; Dead Poets Society, Where the Boys Are, and Quiz Show on education; Rock Around the Clock, The Buddy Holly Story, and Lonely Boy on music; Splendor in the Grass and The Seven Year Itch on sexual repression; Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Manchurian Candidate, and Dr. Strangelove on politics and the Cold War; and episodes of such TV shows as Leave It to Beaver, Father Knows Best, and The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet on growing up in suburbia.

Our on-going concerns will be: what is the definition and perception of American youth culture that began in the 1950s and continues to the present day; how were young people portrayed in literary and visual works of the time, and how accurate were those portrayals; and what are some of the cultural, economic, social, and political reasons for those portrayals? In addition, we will inquire into the impact that the Beat Generation writers had on youth culture at the time and, in an amazing reappearance, on youth culture in the final decade of the twentieth century.

Student responsibility in the course includes a class presentation; a mid-term exam; a number of quizzes; and one of the following major projects: (a) a critical research paper on any topic in or connected to the course; or (b) a creative project, e.g., a short story, or a film script, or a personal essay on any topic prompted by the course; or (c) a take-home final exam equal in difficulty to (a) and (b).

YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE AN ENGLISH OR FILM MAJOR TO TAKE THIS CLASS.