History | The Sixties
A382 | 28353 | 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 post-World War II American society. The
course begins with the radically different liberal, conservative and
New Left solutions to the uneasiness of Cold-War America 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, too, 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 two quizzes, two
short papers (ca. 3 pages), two in-class tests, and a final exam. .
There are no prerequisites for this course, which is open to
undergraduates from freshmen to seniors.