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Sixties Project
Syllabus Collection

General Sixties Courses | Literature Film & Popular Culture | Viet Nam War

Blowin' in the Wind: The United States During the 1960s

Professor: Bernard Yamron
Institution: Brown University
Date: Winter 1995


John Blum, Years of Discord
David Chalmers, And the Crooked Places Made Straight
Todd Gitlin, The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage
Kim McQuaid, The Anxious Years
Edward Morgan, The '60s Experience
Joan Morrison, ed., From Camelot to Kent State
William O'Neill, Coming Apart: An Informal History
I.F. Stone, In a Time of Torment, 1961-67
I.F. Stone, Polemics and Prophecy, 1967-70
Barbara Tischler, Sights on the Sixties
Milton Viorst, Fire in the Streets
Smiling Through the Apocalypse, by the editors of Esquire magazine

Recommended Texts:

Judith and Steward Albert, eds., The Sixties Papers: Documents of a Rebellious Decade is an excellent compilation of primary documents.

About the Readings:

Weekly readings are divided into two categories. Required selections are to be completed by everyone and are all available, in limited quantities, at the Reserve Desk of the Rockefeller Library. Required books for the course may be purchased at Brown Bookstore. A packet of articles, primary documents, and book excerpts is available for purchase at Jo-Art (these selections are indicated by an asterisk [*] on the syllabus.) Recommended readings are intended to provide alternative interpretations, deeper analysis and varying perspectives or personal accounts. All recommended selections are on reserve. Please read as many of these as you possibly can. It is expected that each student will complete at least 2 of the recommended readings each week.

Film Screenings:

To supplement readings, films will be screened throughout the semester. A time will be scheduled for the entire class to view the videos. Students who wish to do so will be able to watch the films individually, or at more convenient times, by scheduling an appointment with the Media Services Lab.


This seminar will concentrate on American social, cultural, and political history of the 1960s. The course will offer a thematic approach and will address such issues as popular politics, the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement and race relations, Feminism, student revolt, and the Counter-Culture.


Because this course will meet only once a week, attendance at all class meetings is extremely important and, therefore, required of all students. Students will be expected to participate in each seminar discussion and are expected to complete all of the assigned readings before each class.

Writing assignments: Written assignments will include one short essay, a research project prospectus, and a research paper.

Two options exist for the short paper (5-7 pages, typed, double-spaced, in 12-point font, with standard margins). You may choose to write a review essay which assesses secondary literature on a personality, event, or topic of your choice. Such reviews should address at least two substantial works. As an alternative, you may elect to compare popular news magazines (Time, Newsweek, Life, LOOK, etc.) and the treatment of common issues/themes over the course of the decade. Such a paper would analyze one or two areas (examples might include politics, civil rights, culture, music, or advertisements) and discuss the similarities and differences of journalistic coverage between the periods 1960-63, 1964-68, and 1968-70. The short paper may be submitted any time prior to the class meeting of week 5.

The research paper should be 15-20 pages in length. The topic must be selected in consultation with the instructor and utilize a minimum of three primary sources. The one-page prospectus should outline the topic, explain the approach being used and the questions being considered, and discuss relevant information about sources, both primary and secondary. The prospectus will be due no later than week 8.

There is no final examination for this class. However, on the date of the scheduled examination period, we will meet for about an hour to discuss our experiences and complete written evaluations of the course. Research papers will be due at this time. Late papers will not be accepted. No exceptions!

Week 1: This session will include an introduction to and overview of the course. Our discussion will center around our memories and perceptions of the decade and its impact on contemporary America.

Week 2: America in the Post-War Era: Past as Prelude
This section of the course will explore various events and interpretations of the period prior to the 1960s. It will foucs on the social, cultural, economic and political realities of the 1950s. Readings will include:

  • Marty Jezer, The Dark Ages: Life in the United States, 1945-60.
  • William O'Neill, American High
  • *Godfrey Hodgson, "The Ideology of Liberal Consensus"
  • *Stuart Samuels, "The Age of Conspiracy and Conformity"
  • *Richard Tedlow, "Intellect on Television: The Quiz Show Scandals"


  • John Diggins, The Proud Decades
  • Jeffrey Hart, When the Going Was Good
  • Thomas Hine, Populuxe
  • J. Ronald Oakley, God's Country


Week 3: The Civil Rights Movement: Approaching the Dream
This section will examine the Civil Rights movement, from its inception in the 1950s up through Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech in 1963, the Freedom Summer, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Readings will include:

  • Sally Belfrage, Freedom Summer
  • *excerpts from Melton McLaurin, Separate Lives: Growing Up White in the Segregated South
  • Taylor Branch, Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-63
  • Clayborne Carson, In Struggle (on SNCC)
  • Anne Moody, Coming of Age in Mississippi
  • Harvard Sitkoff, The Struggle for Black Equality (a concise, introductory treatment)
  • Robert Weisbrot, Freedom Bound

Week 4: National Politics--The White House, Congress, and the Supreme Court
This section of the course will examine the legislative efforts undertaken at the highest levels, with a focus on the social, political, and economic policies of the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations. It will also consider the role of the Court in guaranteeing the rights of criminals and other traditionally unprotected groups. Readings will include:

  • Anthony Lewis, Gideon's Trumpet
  • Allen Matusow, The Unraveling of America
  • *Lyndon Johnson, "The Great Society"
  • *Sargent Shriver, "The War on Poverty is a Movement of Conscience"
  • *Lyndon Johnson, "Total Victory Over Poverty"
  • *Lyndon Johnson, "Speech at Howard University, 1965" (voting and education rights)
  • Richard Goodwin, Remembering America
  • Michael Harrington, The Other America
  • James T. Patterson, America's Struggle Against Poverty
  • Arthur Schlesinger, A Thousand Days

Week 5: Vietnam--America's Longest War
This section will cover the military, diplomatic, and political aspects of the war in Southeast Asia. This is the last day to submit short paper. Readings will include:

  • *excerpts from Neil Sheehan, A Bright Shining Lie (as published in the New Yorker
  • *excerpts from Neil Sheehan, et al, The Pentagon Papers (as leaked by Daniel Ellsberg)
  • *excerpts from Wallace Terry, Bloods: An Oral History of the War by Black Veterans
  • *Gabriel Kolko, "The Limits of American Power"
  • *Norman Podhoretz, "A Moral and Necessary Intervention"
  • David Halberstam, The Best and the Brightest
  • Michael Herr, Dispatches
  • George Herring, America's Longest War
  • Apocalypse Now

Week 6: Burn Down the Ivy Walls--Student Protest and Youth Rebellion
This section will explore political youth culture and the grassroots, popular political movements of the 1960s. It will build upon earlier discussions of politics, civil rights, and the war. Readings will include:

  • James Mill, "Democracy Is in the Streets"
  • *Alice Echols, "We Gotta Get Out of This Place"
  • *excerpts from David Caute, The Year of the Barricades
  • *excerpts from Cyril Levitt, Children of Privilege
  • *excerpts from Seymour Martin Lipset, Rebellion in the University
  • *excerpts from Steve Kelman, Push Comes to Shove
  • *excerpts from Ronald Fraser, 1968: A Student Generation in Revolt
  • *excerpts from Tod Gitlin, The Whole World is Watching
  • David Dellinger, From Yale to Jail: A Memoir
  • David Farber, Chicago, 1968
  • Kenneth Keniston, Youth and Dissent and Young Radicals
  • Maurice Isserman, If I Had A Hammer
  • Klaus Mehnert, Twilight of the Young
  • Charles Reich, The Greening of America
  • W.J. Rorabaugh, Berkeley at War
  • Kirkpatrick Sale, SDS
  • Irwin Unger, The Movement: A History of the New Left
  • Debi and Irwin Unger, Turning Point 1968

Week 7: Vietnam--Protest on the Homefront
This section will examine antiwar protest in the United States. Readings will include:

  • *excerpts from Nancy Zaroulis and Gerald Sullivan, eds., Who Spoke Up?
  • *various antiwar articles published in Ramparts
  • *excerpts from Alice Lynd, ed., We Won't Go: Personal Accounts of War Objectors
  • Lawrence Baskir and William Strauss, Chance and Circumstance: The Draft...
  • Peter Braestrup, Big Story
  • Charles DeBenedetti, An American Ordeal
  • Daniel Hallin, The Uncensored War
  • Melvin Small, Johnson, Nixon and the Doves


  • Vietnam: A Television History: The Homefront

Week 8: The "New" American Woman: Feminism in 1960s America
This section will explore the rebirth of the women's movement and will include discussion of the "sexual revolution" and changes in "family" values. Research prospectus is due. Readings will include:

  • Sara Evans, Personal Politics
  • *Jane DeHart Matthews, "The New Feminism"
  • *Joanne Meyerowitz, "Beyond the Feminine Mystique" JAH, March, 1993
  • *Amy Swerdlow, "Ladies Day at the Capitol," in Dubois & Ruez, Unequal Sisters
  • *excerpts from Cynthia Harrison, On Account of Sex
  • *excerpts from Alice Echols, Daring to Be Bad: Radical Feminism...
  • *excerpts from Barbara Ehrenreich, The Hearts of Men
  • *selections from Robin Morgan, ed., Sisterhood is Powerful


  • Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique
  • Elaine Tyler May, Homeward Bound


  • Making Sense of the Sixties, Part IV: Breaking Boundaries, Testing Limits

Week 9: Race Relations of the 1960s/Black Power
This section will continue discussion of the Civil Rights movement and relations between the races. We will discuss the emergence of more militant and separatist groups within the African-American community and consider the riots of the mid- to late-1960s. Readings will include:

  • Stokely Carmichael & Charles Hamilton, Black Power
  • Alex Haley, The Autobiography of Malcolm X
  • *excerpts from The Report of the National Advisory Committee on Civil Disorders
  • *excerpts from Theodore Draper, Rediscovery of Black Nationalism
  • *excerpts from Robert Conot, Rivers of Blood, Years of Darkness
  • *excerpts from James Forman, The Making of Black Revolutionaries


  • James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time
  • Eldridge Cleaver, Soul on Ice
  • Julius Lester, Look Out Whitey
  • E. Eric Lincoln, Black Muslims in America


Week 10: Hippie, Dippy, Trippy: Culture and Counterculture
This section will explore developments of a cultural variety. Readings will be supplemented with a collection of recorded music, and will include:

  • Tom Wolfe, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test
  • *excerpts from Ed Ward, et al eds., Rock of Ages: The Rolling Stone History of Rock and Roll
  • *excerpts from Abbie Hoffman, Steal This Book
  • *"Apollo and the Two Cultures" in Apollo: Ten Years Since Tranquility Base (Smithsonian, '79)
  • *Charles Maland, "On Strangelove: Nightmare Comedy and the Ideology of Liberal Consensus"
  • *Abbie Hoffman, "Revolution for the Hell of It"
  • *Michael Frisch, "Woodstock and Altamont" in Graebner, True Stories from the American Past
  • *Ed Sanders, "Festival of Life"
  • Audio Tape (at Orwig Music Library) of various musical artists


  • William Braden, The Age of Aquarius
  • Morris Dickstein, The Gates of Eden: American Culture in the 1960s
  • Simon Frith, Sound Effects: Youth, Leisure and the Politics of Rock and Roll
  • David Horowitz, et al eds., Counterculture and Revolution
  • Marty Jezer, Abbie Hoffman: American Rebel
  • Theodore Roszak, Making of a Counter Culture
  • Jerry Rubin, Do It!
  • Daniel Simon, ed., The Best of Abbie Hoffman


Week 11: Backlash--The View from 1994: Looking Back and Assessing the 1960s
This section will consider the rise of a "new conservative majority" and the appeal of Nixon/Wallace/Agnew in the late 1960s. After exploring this "backlash," discussion will turn to a critical analysis of the decade and will allow students to draw their own conclusions about what it all meant. Readings will include:

  • Peter Collier and David Horowitz, eds., Second Thoughts: Former Radicals Look Back...
  • *excerpts from Kevin Phillips, The Emerging Republican Majority
  • *excerpts from Joe McGinniss, The Selling of the President
  • *excerpts from Jody Carlson, George Wallace and the Politics of Powerlessness
  • *excerpts from Jules Witcover, White Knight: The Rise of Spiro Agnew


  • Dan Carter, George Wallace, Richard Nixon, and the Transformation of American Politics
  • Anthony Casale & Philip Lerman, Where Have All the Flowers Gone?
  • Peter Collier & David Horowitz, Destructive Generation: Second Thoughts About the Sixties
  • Theodore Lippman, Spiro Agnew's America


  • Making Sense of the Sixties, Part V: Picking Up the Pieces

Week 12: Research Paper Presentations
During this session, students will make oral presentations concerning their research.

Week 13: Research Paper Presentations (Pot Luck Dinner)
During this session, the class will meet informally for a put luck supper and students who have not yet done so will make oral presentations concerning their research.

Finals Week: Class Evaluations/Research Papers Due
On the date of the scheduled examination period, we will meet for about an hour to discuss our experiences and complete written evaluations of the course. Research papers will be due at this time.

Send your Sixties-related course syllabus to us via email, or mail a disk to PO Box 13746, Tucson, AZ 85732-3746.

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