What is somewhat unusual about this seminar is that we will view and discuss movies made during these years in order help us understand the era. In addition, we will make use of a reader of more conventional documents. This might help us address the question, “What are the advantages and shortcomings of using movies for an understanding of the era in which they were made? Can movies give us a sense of what it was like to be alive in such times?” The importance of front page events such as the Cold War and the Civil Rights movement were immediately apparent at the time. However, in this seminar, we shall also give attention to some less remarked upon developments—such as the use of computers by government and industry, as well as the discovery and wide use of the contraceptive pill—in order to estimate their importance. Students will be asked to write a one paragraph response to each of the movies, and they will also be called upon to write a 10 page interpretive essay at the end of the course. Enrollment is limited to freshmen and sophomores. This seminar is part of the On the Same Page initiative.
Samuel Haber is an Emeritus Professor of History at UC Berkeley and is writing a book on American Intellectual and Cultural History.