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1950s America

ENGL 799.301
instructor(s):
Mondays 12-3:00 pm

In focusing our attention on this single decade, we will probe the contradictions of a postwar that signaled a new kind of war, a new prosperity that meant alienation, and a vision of integration abroad that criminalized dissent at home. This period of hardening consensus and glittering surfaces relied on political and aesthetic realignments that resignified concepts of peace, justice, and freedom. Considering the proliferating documents of cold war policy alongside the scholarly critical apparatus that crystallized in its service, we will analyze literary and filmic efforts that exemplify, skewer, and dismantle such alignments in works by Baldwin, Nabokov, Highsmith, Douglas Sirk,  John Ford, and others. We will ponder, too, our contemporary craze for midcentury to consider our present critical turn to surface and medium.