Spring 2014 - Undergraduate Course Descriptions
Description of Course:
This is an upper-division introduction to American thought from 1945-1965, a period often defined by cultural high modernism and Cold War liberalism. Students will read a wide array of texts, focusing on social thought and cultural criticism. Key issues will include: the critique of mass culture, the idea of the middle class, defining a liberal consensus, the problem of affluence, the intellectual origins of the Civil Rights Movement and second-wave feminism, the modernism/post-modernism distinction. Readings will be a combination of primary and secondary texts. Thinkers we will be examining include: C. Wright Mills, David Riesman, Betty Friedan, James Baldwin, Thomas Kuhn, Ralph Ellison, Daniel Bell, Hannah Arendt, Clement Greenberg, E. Franklin Frazier, Harold Rosenberg, Margaret Mead, Arthur Schlesinger, Lionel Trilling, James Agee, and Dwight Macdonald.
Possible texts, some of which will be excerpted, include books and essays: Richard Pells, The Liberal Mind in a Conservative Age; Robert Genter, Late Modernism; Arthur Schlesinger,Jr., The Vital Center; James Baldwin, Notes of a Native Son; Lionel Trilling, The Liberal Imagination; David Riesman, The Lonely Crowd; C. Wright Mills, The Sociological Imagination; Dwight Macdonald, "Masscult and Midcult"; Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique
Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria:
Class attendance and participation; one oral presentation with written precis; one 12-15 page critical and historical analysis of a primary text.