What is the course about?
We will explore the political, social and cultural context of 1950s America through a study of representative and sometimes surprisingly radical literature, history and film of the period. The course has different tutors for each specialism, providing different ways in to understanding the decade.
What will we cover?
Sessions will be divided into different sections, taught by specialist tutors:
19 June - Literature tutor: Patricia Sweeney
Overview of the course. "The great nation of America in the 1950s: where are we now and where are we going?" Fiction by Philip Roth and Shirley Jackson; poetry by Allen Ginsberg
26 June History tutor: Dale Mineshima-Lowe (topic: domestic politics/history)
"America's domestic expansion and boom in the 1950s"
3 July History tutor: Mark Malcomson (topic: International/Foreign Affairs)
A discussion of personalities that shaped US foreign policy in the 1950s and the impact on domestic perceptions.
10 & 17 July Film tutor: Nick Scudamore
American films of the 1950s: Watch extracts from 10 masterpieces of cinematic art, films that express, through their varying genres (western / romance / sci-fi / film noir / comedy etc) the necessary adjustments to a modern, predominantly urban, age. Includes 'Sunset Boulevard' (1950), 'A Star is Born' (1954) and 'North by North West' (1959).
24 July Literature tutor: Patricia Sweeney
"Subverting the status quo: cities, suburbs and small towns - all is not what it seems"
Fiction by Flannery O'Connor, John Cheever and James Baldwin.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
-Understand how America changes socially, politically and economically during this period
-Explore the literary works of the period and how they reflect the cultural changes taking place in the country
-Develop an awareness of how the film and motion picture industry reflects not only the 'norm' but critiques the culture.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
Anyone with an interest in American culture is welcome.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
Sessions will include short lectures and working in small and large groups. Film extracts will be shown in
those designated sessions.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
Materials will be provided by the lecturers.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
Look at other courses in the Humanities under History, Culture and Writing at www.citylit.ac.uk in the
History, Literature and Film Studies sections.
General information and advice on courses at City Lit is available from the Student Centre and Library on Monday to Friday from 12:00 – 19:00.
See the course guide for term dates and further details