AMST 2020: Popular Culture in the US, 1950-Present This course will trace and analyze the major developments in American popular culture from 1950 to the present. As we examine best sellers, films, sports and television, radio, ads, newspapers, magazines and music, we will try to better understand the ways in which popular culture shapes and/or reflects American values. The course will also depict popular culture as "contested terrain," the place where social classes, racial and ethnic groups, women and men, the powerful and the less powerful, seek to "control" images and themes. Requirements for the course include a midterm, a final, and a research paper which analyzes an individual, a group, a genre, or a phenomenon in popular culture (e.g. Louis L'Amour's westerns, Danielle Steele, MTV, Bon Jovi, I Love Lucy, etc.). A paper should discuss the significance of your subject to American popular culture in an essay no longer than ten doublespace type-written pages. The course includes lectures, and site-based discussions (students must respond to questions posted on the Discussion Board). Both are significant parts of the course. The lectures, which cover the broadest range of the period's popular culture, are available for you to view -- or simply listen to -- online. Students like to take advantage of the flexibility of access, so by and large there is no set schedule for viewing the lectures. We recommend a viewing rate of a little over one a day and that you be through Lecture 17 (Soaps and the Feminization of Narrative) by the midterm (January 11th); and, of course,that you be through all of the lectures by course's end. The lectures are: 1. Hollywood, Conformity, and the Red Scare 2. Mickey Spillane, Mike Hammer and the Lonely Knights of the 1950s 3. Wayne's World 4. Liberace 5. Liking Ike and Loving Lucy 6. Cracks in the Consensus 7. Paper 8. Popular Magazines 9. Hedonists Among Puritans: The Playboy Vision of America 10. Candle in the Wind: The Object Lessons of Marilyn Monroe 11. Race in the Ring 12. The Western: Death and Resurrection 13. The TV Workplace and the American Family 14. "Docufiction" and the American Family 15. TV News and the Transformation of American Politics 16. Dolly and Deliverance 17. Soaps and the Feminization of Narrative 18. The Appeal of Gothic Romance 19. Country Music and Down-Home Values 20. Gross-Out and Horror Film 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34. Rock Around the Clock The Beatles and the British Invasion Metal Televangelism Masters of the Universe Adcult: Advertising and the Training of the American Consumer Vietnam and the Movies Charlie Hustle and Slick Willie People, USA Today, and the Age of "Infotainment" Disnification JFK and Enola Gay: History in Popular Culture, Part I JFK and Enola Gay: History in Popular Culture, Part II The Tradition of Anti-Intellectualism and the Celebration of the Common Man The Trials of OJ and the Morals of "Monicagate" Finish the text or reading indicated by the end of the day on the given date. Discussion on a given text will generally begin a day or two before the date indicated, but will derive only from the earlier parts of the text. What this means, though, is that as soon as you have finished reading one text you will want to start on the next fairly soon so that you may be COMPLETELY through it by the evening of the date indicated. The midterm will be posted online by noon EST on Sunday January 10th and be due back to me at [email protected] by noon EST Monday January 11th. The final will be posted by noon EST on Friday January 22 and be due back to me at the same address by noon EST Saturday January 23. The 24-hour response window will be more than adequate; the exams themselves should take no longer than exams taken in an analogous bricks-and-mortar class. The seven-to-ten-page paper -- on a popular culture subject of your choice from the period, related substantially to class themes and discussed in advance with the TA, Jonathan Pickett -will be due to Jonathan Pickett at [email protected] by noon EST Wednesday January 20. Our books will be: Death of A Salesman, Arthur Miller Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Salinger Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers, T. Wolfe American Pastoral, Philip Roth Fear of Flying, Erica Jong Iron John, Robert Bly Glengarry Glen Ross, David Mamet Amusing Ourselves to Death, Neal Postman We will have read the books in their entirety by the dates indicated: Miller 12/29 Salinger 1/1 Wolfe 1/4 Roth 1/8 Jong 1/13 Bly 1/15 Mamet 1/18 Postman 1/20 Any questions? Contact Jonathan Pickett at [email protected] Hope to see you online!