Archive for the 'Announcements' Category

Final Exam and Reminders

by admin - May 2nd, 2016

Thanks for a great semester, everyone! I have really enjoyed teaching this course. I hope you have a good end to your semester and a relaxing summer.

Some reminders about wrapping up the course’s loose ends:

Papers were handed back today. If your grade was a 6 or below, you have the option of revising it; see the comments at the bottom of your graded rubric for details. Due date for revised papers is May 9th during the final exam time slot (8:30 – 11:30 am). It can be handed in at the final, or emailed to me, or dropped off at my office mailbox.

Be sure to finish up the Congress project on or before May 9th also – that means making sure the committee page is complete and writing your Congress reflection paper. It can be handed in at the final, or emailed to me, or dropped off at my office mailbox.

Exam #4 will take place on Monday, May 9th at 8:30 – 11:30 in our regular classroom. If you plan to take the exam please come by 9:00.

Download Exam 4 Study Guide

No Class Wed 4/6; Paper Due + Film Friday

by admin - April 5th, 2016

Course / syllabus update:

Wed, Apr 6: I need to cancel class on Wednesday, April 6th. Don’t worry about the reading assignment that was listed on the syllabus, we’ll just drop that one out. Instead focus on finishing your research papers for Friday.

Friday, Apr 8: Research Papers are due in class. We will screen part of a documentary about religion and media in the 1980s, The Eyes of Tammy Faye.

Mon, Apr 11: back to our regular syllabus schedule, reading is MO Ch 15

Thanks! ~ Dr. Hangen

Mon 2/8 – Postwar Consumer Society (Online Class)

by admin - February 8th, 2016

Snow day on Monday, Feb 8th, so we won’t meet in person. Today we’ll just move class online. Please read the information below, in addition to your study of MO Ch 5, and watch the clips posted in the links. Then leave a COMMENT (a paragraph or more, if you have more to say) in the box at the bottom of the post, which will count as today’s attendance.

This chapter identifies elements of popular / mass culture of the 1950s, and also those who critiqued or rebelled against that culture. One key theme I would have discussed in class is the rise of television and its importance in creating and fueling that consumer culture. You might enjoy the commercials and programs in the links below, including the NBC news which in those years was sponsored by a single company that aggressively pitched its product at every opportunity during the 15-minute live broadcast each night (Camel Cigarettes).

I’ve also put a link to an example of a very popular genre of television programs from the 1950s, the game show. “The Price is Right” debuted in 1956. By the late 1950s, popular quiz shows would be exposed as setups. Some, like the one you read about for today, used “ordinary” people as their guests, such as “What’s My Line?” (as in, what do I do for work?) and “This is Your Life” surprising a guest with the story of their life and reuniting them with people from their past.

On “Queen for a Day” (1955-1964), oily host Jack Bailey would identify pathetically needy women from the studio audience in a Hollywood night club, and then get audience members to vote on who needed assistance the most or whose life was the worst, crowning the winner “Queen for a Day.” A glamorous cast of silent tiara-wearing models showed off the prizes. It was universally panned by the critics as a terrible show, but it was immensely popular anyway. It’s a really fascinating program, in that it’s a kind of reverse beauty pageant (and, as one scholar argues, one of the few places on television that looked at the American underclass at all). I posted an entire episode, if you’re interested.

Links relevant to today’s discussion (primary sources about 1950s TV & consumerism):
See the USA in Your Chevrolet (1953)
Brylcreem commercial
Camel News Caravan (NBC) for 9/28/1954
Blackboard Jungle trailer (1955)
Elvis Presley on the Ed Sullivan Show (Oct 1956)
Queen for a Day episode (March 1958)

Discussion Question: After watching these clips and studying the chapter, what have you learned about consumer culture, marketing, or social values in the 1950s? Leave your thoughts in the comments below by 11:00 pm Monday Feb 8th.

For your further snow day viewing pleasure… (OPTIONAL)

Good movies made in the 1950s (full-length online viewing):

Man in the Gray Flannel Suit (1956) – Gregory Peck in this earnest, compelling drama about a returning WW2 veteran who takes a soul-numbing job as a Madison Avenue ad executive.

On the Waterfront (1954) – young Marlon Brando portrays a young longshoreman on New York’s wharfs, explores themes of labor organizing, corruption, and the blacklist. Beautifully acted and filmed.

Blackboard Jungle (1955) – the first film to use Rock’n’roll in the soundtrack. Glen Ford is an idealistic teacher in a rough inner city high school (Sidney Poitier plays one of the students). Themes of juvenile delinquency, honor, and social change. (Youtube rental $2.99, not free)

Rebel Without a Cause (1955) – classic teen cars, delinquency, angst and family trouble, featuring young James Dean, Natalie Wood, and Sal Mineo.

Good movies made ABOUT the 1950s (realistic, slightly fictionalized):

Quiz Show (1994) – portrays the Twenty One quiz show scandal of 1956

Good Night and Good Luck (2005) – portrays the efforts of trusted and crusading TV journalist Edward R. Murrow to use his show bring down Joseph McCarthy in 1954

No Class Fri 2/5

by admin - February 5th, 2016

Enjoy your snow day, although it’s cancelled our 2nd day of Congress. We’ll just stay on track with the syllabus as given instead of making the day up. However, if you’re interested in what we would have done, check out the “Day 2” page on the Congress Wiki.

For Monday 2/8: MO Ch 5 “Consumer Culture”

And, here’s a recent article you might enjoy about how Congress managed during the unusually large snowstorm down in DC a few weeks ago –

Homework for First Day of Class: Jan 20, 2016

by admin - January 11th, 2016

I have assigned some homework due on the first day (Wednesday Jan 20th). Between now and then, please obtain or purchase one paper copy of a national or international newspaper (i.e. not the Worcester T&G or a local paper). Examples: Boston Globe, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, etc. Read the entire A section and bring it with you to the first day of class.

051108679_iconmI would like everyone to choose one story from your paper’s A section as something you are curious about or would like to know more about its history. For example, a story about the Oregon wildlife area occupation might get you thinking about the rise of armed militia groups, about the background of environmental protests, why white men with guns do or don’t get called “terrorists,” about persistent regional differences in our nation, or about the role of religion in political action in recent decades. Or an article about the scheduled meeting of Sean Penn and “El Chapo” might get you wondering about why some Hollywood celebrities become self-appointed diplomats, or about the modern history of Mexican-US drug wars, etc. The goal would be that you would identify something from NOW that you would like to pay special attention to as you look back through the history of our country since 1945 this term.

Enjoy the rest of your break, and I will see you next Wednesday, newspapers in hand!

Best, Dr. Hangen

Welcome, Spring 2016 Students!

by admin - December 31st, 2015

This website serves as the hub for Tona Hangen’s course, “The United States Since 1945,” for the Spring 2016 semester at Worcester State University (MWF 9:30 am).

The textbooks for this course are listed under the “Readings” tab above.

From this website, you can download the syllabus or access it online, stay up to date with course news and any changes, see the guidelines for the course papers and projects, and follow links to my recommended intellectual history and writing resources on the web.

This site is a blog, meaning it updates frequently and therefore you should either bookmark it or subscribe to it to stay up to date with all the course news and updates. I leave up the previous semesters’ information as an archive for my past students. You can safely ignore any post NOT tagged “Spr16.”

If you have questions about the course before we meet in person on Wednesday, January 20th, please feel free to email me, at thangen (at)

End of Spring 2014 Term Details

by admin - May 5th, 2014

Continue reading →

Unit 4 Overview

by admin - April 12th, 2014

As the course winds down you will be working on two parallel tracks – understanding how historians have written about our own time, and enacting your own legislation in our Congress. Continue reading →

Unit 3 and Exam 3 Update/News

by admin - March 31st, 2014

Good news! The tables and chairs are coming back – we should have them for Wed’s class, and if not, we have permission to use the classroom next door – so either way, plan on being able to spread out materials on tables for Wed’s exam. Continue reading →

Unit 3 – The 1970s

by admin - March 15th, 2014

This short unit (begun before the break) considers the 1970s and 1980s. Sometimes passed over as merely transitional from the liberal/contentious 1960s to the conservative 1980s, the 1970s are now being reexamined as important in their own right. And was the 1980s so conservative after all? After the 3rd exam we have a week devoted to working on the Research Paper. Continue reading →