This course offers a comparative, transnational study of the dramatic social, scientific, political, and cultural transformations that occurred in the two decades or so following World War II and will include some of the following topics: the Cold War and the Space Race, the reshaping of the Middle-East, the Cultural Revolution in China, decolonization in Africa, dictatorship and Liberation Theology in Latin America, the global civil rights movement, the New Right, the environmental movement, consumerism, counter-culture and the student protest movements that took place around the world.
This course attempts to question the very units of historical analysis: the global perspective and the 1960s. To what extent are the events of the 1960s transnational or global, and how much are they responses to particular national circumstances? Similarly, how useful is it to conceptualize historical periods in terms of decades? Does the idea of the 1960s as a historical epoch hold water, especially considering that much of the phenomena associated with the decade originated in the ’50s or even the 40s? What was distinct about this moment in history across the globe, and what are its proper chronological parameters?
The governing idea here is cross-discipline; the course seeks to reintegrate art, literature, music, and science into the discussion of history. While a single instructor is responsible for the course, individual modules will feature different faculty members. By covering a wide variety of primary sources across disciplines, students will analyze the intellectual sources of the major transformative events of the 1960s, develop an understanding of the historical circumstances under which they occurred, and assess their long-term effects. It is hoped that the interdisciplinary approach stimulates out-of-the-box critical thinking about the increasing inter-connectedness of ideas, politics, economies, and culture after 1945.