History in 20th Century Popular Culture

  • History in 20th Century Popular Culture Period 5


    OVERVIEW; Major historic events, trends and innovations have had a profound impact on the evolution of American popular culture. Conversely, trends and developments in popular culture have impacted the political, social and economic history of the United States. The significant domestic and international issues that have shaped our history and the various permutations of American Popular Culture are deeply intertwined. This course will focus on the ways that history, contemporary world and domestic affairs, societal trends, economic conditions and social problems have been reflected in popular culture through music, film, radio, television, athletics and mass marketed consumer goods. It will also explore ways in which changes in pop culture have had significant political, economic and social implications.


    The Nascent Modern American Pop Culture Scene 1900-1930

    1. Industry, Immigration, Urbanization -Jacob Riis, reform movements, Nativism/Red Scare in US Culture, Political cartoons, D.W. Griffith, Birth of a Nation (1915), Creel Committee war-time propaganda, "Super Americanism"

    2. Technology, National Markets and the Shrinking of US Culture - The Sears & Roebuck catalog, The Model T/ access to entertainment, Motion pictures, Great Train Robbery, Movie Palaces, Jazz Singer (1915),Disney, Steamboat Willie, Radio, Telephone, Electrification

    3. Emergence of a Mass-Media Driven Popular Culture - KDKA Pittsburgh, The concept of the Superstar, Babe Ruth, Jack Dempsey, Clara Bow, Knute Rockne, Louis Armstrong, Charles Lindbergh etc.., The Jazz Age, Athletics as a major cultural and economic force, race and ethnicity in athletics (Jack Johnson, Notre Dame Football as a point of pride to Catholics etc..)

    4. The Rise of a Modern Consumer Culture - Buying on credit, Advertising as a legitimate profession, Explosion of new technology/appliances, Dominance of downtown Department Stores, Geographic expansion of the cities.


    Popular Culture and the Crisis Years 1930-1945

    1. The Great Depression in Popular Culture- Grapes of Wrath, Woody Guthrie, It's a Wonderful Life, Escapism at the cinema, Busby Berkeley musicals, Politics on film, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

    2. Totalitarianism, Fascism and the War in entertainment - Casablanca, Three Stooges, Bugs Bunny, Government Propaganda films, Bill Mauldin (Willie and Joe), John Wayne, Back to Bataan, Sands of Iwo Jima, Audie Murphy, Movie-Tone News

    3. Print Media and Radio Trends - The Shadow, Batman, Superman, Blondie, Dick Tracy, Flash Gordon, Brenda Starr and what they reflect about societal values, Frank Sinatra and the concept of the "Teen Idol", Orson Welles, War of the Worlds, the power of mass media

    4. Athletics Transcending Racial, Religious and Gender Discrimination - Babe Didrickson, Marty Glick, Jesse Owens, Joe Louis, Hank Greenberg, Jackie Robinson (1947)


    Popular Culture and the American Century 1945-1965

    1. Cold War Anxiety in Pop Culture - HUAC Investigation of Hollywood, The Blob, The Body Snatchers, Godzilla, Dr. Strangelove, James Bond, Fall Out Shelter Signs/ Duck and Cover Drills, Space Race, Star Trek, Lost in Space, I Dream of Genie, 2001 Space Odyssey ,Planet of the Apes, Marvel Comics, Stan Lee, Fantastic Four, The Hulk, Spider-Man

    2. Suburbia, Consumerism and Conformity - Levittown, "White Flight", The Shopping Mall, Gender Expectations, Barbie Dolls, Leave It To Beaver, Father Knows Best, The Man in The Grey Flannel Suit, Marilyn Monroe, "Baby Boom"

    3. The Age of Television - The Lone Ranger, The Honeymooners, I Love Lucy, Mickey Mouse Club, Impact of Advertising, Swanson TV Dinners, Ed Sullivan, Depictions of Women and Minorities on Television, Economic Impact of Sports on TV, Emerging Dominance of the NFL, Johnny Unitas 1958, Jim Brown, Chuck Bednarik, Politics on TV, " I Like Ike" Ad, 1960 Presidential Debate, Importance of Television in the Civil Rights Movement, Birmingham '63, Selma '65

    4. The Automobile Age - Federal Highway Act 1956, Dominance of GM, Holiday Inn, Drive In Theatres, McDonalds and the fast food market, Suburban Sprawl

    5. The Rise of "Teenagers" as a Distinct Cultural/Consumer Group - Rock 'n' Roll, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Race Issues, Elvis Presley, American Bandstand, Anti-Heroes, James Dean, Marlon Brando, Teen Fashion and Fads

    6. Critics/Challengers of the Status Quo - Beat Writers, Howl, On The Road, Modern Jazz, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Playboy, Hugh Heffner, Lenny Bruce, First Amendment Obscenity Battles


    Pop Culture in the Age of Social Upheaval 1965-1980

    1. The Counter-Culture and Protest Movements in Pop Culture - The Graduate, Hair, Easy Rider, Haight-Ashbury, Woodstock, Altamont, John Lennon, Wattstax, James Brown, "I'm Black And I'm Proud", Stonewall Riots, Harvey Milk, Ms. Magazine, Gloria Steinem, Cathy,The Mary Tyler Moore Show , Helen Reddy, "Hanoi Jane", Patti Hearst, The Manson Family, Black Panthers, SDS, Kent State, The Smothers Brothers, Earth Day 1970, The Crying Native-American PSA, Three Mile Island, No-Nukes, Love Canal

    2. Urban Decay, Racial Tensions and Social Unrest in Pop Culture - All In The Family, Good Times, Sanford And Son, Chico and The Man, Ethnic and "Blaxploitation" films, Shaft, Superfly, The Godfather, Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, Dog Day Afternoon, Rocky, NYC Punk Rock, Ramones, Dictators, CBGB, Son of Sam, Roots Mini-Series, Richard Pryor, The emergence of Hip-Hop Culture in the late 70's

    3. The Impact of Political Scandal & Disillusionment - Walter Cronkite, The Pentagon Papers, Woodward and Bernstein, Agnew Scandal, Watergate Scandal, ABSCAM, Iran-Hostage Crisis, Saturday Night Live, Hollywood Celebrities and Dollars in the Political Process. The Lure of Nostalgia in Troubled Times (American Graffiti , [Brady Bunch and Partridge Family and old fashioned family issues], Happy Days, Sha Na Na)

    4. The "Me Decade" and the Mass Marketing of Pop Culture in the Later 1970's - Disco, Studio 54, Village People, Saturday Night Fever, Bee Gees, Frampton Comes Alive, Kiss, Kiss Army, Star Wars, Farrah Fawcett ,Charlie's Angels, Welcome Back Kotter, The Three Network's Dominant Hold on the American Mass Cultural Experience. Pet Rocks, Streaking, Roller Disco

    5. Professional Sports as Common Cultural Experience/Economic Engine - Joe Namath, Super Bowl III, Ali-Frazier Fight Of the Century 1971, Monday Night Football, Howard Cosell , Dallas Cowboys as "America's Team", Reggie Jackson and the NY Yankees, Reggie Candy Bars, The Cold War Olympic Basketball Clash of 1972, Bruce Jenner '76, The 1980 Us Olympic "Miracle on Ice", Emergence of ESPN 1979, The unifying cultural impact of sports.


    Popular Culture and the Age of Technology 1980-Present

    1. Reagan Era Affluence/Domestic Social Problems/World Affairs in Pop Culture - Yuppies, Preppies, Family Ties, Dallas, Dynasty, Miami Vice, Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, AIDS Fears, Magic Johnson, Philadelphia (1993), The AIDS Quilt, The Crack Cocaine Epidemic, Urban Violence, Colors, Do The Right Thing, NWA-Straight Outta Compton, Len Bias, "Just Say No", Bonfire of the Vanities, Rocky IV, Rambo, Red Dawn, War Games, The Day After, Post-9/11 anxiety in popular culture, 24.

    2. The Expanding Economic/Cultural Impact of Cable TV - MTV, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Prince, Break-Dancing, MTV's Real World, The Reality TV Explosion, American Idol, CNN, Wrestle-Mania, ESPN Sports Center, X-Games, HBO original programming, Sopranos.

    3. The Impact of Technology on Popular Culture - Home Theatre from Beta Max to Blu-Ray, Video Games from Pong to PS3, Audio from the Walk-Man to the I-Pod, The Internet, E-Mail, Internet Commerce, The Y2K Scare, Cellular Technology, I-Phones, Social Networking Sites. The 24 Hour Internet News Cycle. Impact of the Internet in Politics. Drudge Report, Huffington Post, Economic and Social impact of rapidly developing Technology.

    4. Increasing Diversity in US Popular Culture - The emergence of Hip-Hop as a Major Social/Economic Force, Grandmaster Flash, Run D.M.C., LL Cool J, Jay-Z, Changing Portrayals of Homosexuals, Women, African-Americans, and Hispanics in Mass Media/Rejection of Stereotypes, George Lopez, The Cosby Show, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Oprah Winfrey, Queer Eye For The Straight guy, Broke Back Mountain, Will And Grace, Ellen DeGeneres, Buffy The Vampire Slayer , Xena Warrior Princess, Tiger Woods, The Williams Sisters, Contrast depictions of women and minorities in mass media through the decades.