Archive for the 'Lecture Links' Category

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

Fair Deal / Affluent Society – Mon 2/1

by admin - January 31st, 2016

Links relevant to today’s discussion:

NPR, “How Some Baltimore Neighborhoods Reflect Segregation’s Legacy” (5/6/2015)

Ford “Two Ford Family” (1956)

Levittown: Building the American Dream (State Museum of Pennsylvania)

Mon 1/25 – The Atomic Age

by admin - January 25th, 2016

Some links relevant to today’s discussion of the documents in History of Our Time Part One

Atomic Detonations, 1945 – 1998

Truman Library: online documents related to Cold War, Truman Doctrine, and much more

John F. Kennedy Library site about the Cuban Missile Crisis

For the full Kennan telegram and other now-declassified NSA documents, see the online NSA Archive

New York Times has published an excerpt of Haynes and Klehr’s book on the Venona Project; also for some of the original decoded intercepts, see here PBS / NOVA

January 27 is “Downwinders Day” to recognize the health and environmental impact of above-ground nuclear testing from the 1940s and 1950s in the American southwest

For additional primary source documents of the Atomic Age, start here (MIT) and here (Digital Public Library of America)

Lesson Plan w/ documents: Government pamphlet about nuclear fallout (Library of Congress)

See also the classic civil defense film made for schoolchildren, “Duck and Cover” (1951)

Eisenhower’s Farewell Address (1961)

Fri 1/22 – The US in 1945

by admin - January 22nd, 2016

Some links relevant to today’s discussion of Moss Chapter 1:

1942 propaganda film, “It’s Everybody’s War” (narrated by Henry Fonda)

Norman Corwin, “Prayer” for On a Note of Triumph CBS radio broadcast, (VE Day, 8 May 1945)

More about JFK in WWII

Double-V Campaign and African Americans during WWII

Executive Order 9066 in Our Documents (National Archives)

JARDA – Japanese American Relocation Digital Archives

Lesson Plan w/ documents: Laura McEnaney, “Nightmares on Elm Street: Demobilizing in Chicago, 1945-1953