Spring 2015

1960's America: Left, Right, and Center

Listed in: History, as HIST-458

Moodle site: Course (Guest Accessible)


Vanessa Walker (Section 01)


[US] The 1960s was arguably the most turbulent decade the United States experienced in the twentieth century. It evokes strong images of youthful protests and “sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll,” which defined the era in the popular mind. These exuberant stereotypes, however, also concealed the complexities and fissures at the core of Cold War American society. This research seminar will examine the dominant values and policies of the Cold War United States at the beginning of the decade, and the subsequent challenges posed to the existing order in the areas of race, foreign affairs, domestic economic policy, political leadership, gender relations, and popular culture. It will emphasize a wide array of protest movements and activism—both left and right—and the interplay among formal politics, grassroots movements, and popular culture. Finally, it will question whether the decade provides a valid and coherent framework for historical analysis, looking for continuities and unique aspects of this era in the broader context of modern American history.  The course will explore these questions in historical documents, as well as music, visual arts, literature, and film. Students will conduct in-depth research on a topic of their choice, culminating in a 20-25 page seminar paper. One class meeting per week.

Not open to first-year students. Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Professor Walker.



Course Information

If Overenrolled: Amherst students, history majors, class year--seniors, juniors, sophomores


2019-20: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2015