Course Description

United States History

HIUS 3559

New Course in United States History

US in the 1970s: Disillusion and Disco
Fall 2016

What happened in the 1970's?  It's easy to think of the 1970's as an era in which Americans made bad aesthetic choices:  disco, polyester, and mood rings.  But a tremendous amount of social, political and cultural upheaval shaped an era that bridged the counterculture and the Reagan Revolution.  This seminar examines the political, cultural, economic and intellectual history of the 1970s.  Some people have thought of the 1970s as a decade in which America lost its edge:  inflation, deindustrialization and the oil crisis reflected profound changes in the American and global economy.  We will examine the cause of these changes, as well as the social and cultural configurations that followed in their wake.  We will look at important phenomena that continue to shape the world we live in today:  the feminization of the workforce, a rising environmental consciousness, the rise of the gay rights movement, Vietnam, the "urban crisis" and disputes over busing that pierced the illusion of racial harmony.  Through secondary sources, as well as articles, music, fiction, TV and movies from the era we will try to make sense of what has been called the "the ME decade."  We will ask ourselves two interrelated questions:  how much do the politics of the 1970s still reverberate and shape our own politics and culture?  To what extent do the concerns of Americans in the 1970s still ring true to us today?  

Corcoran Department of History
University of Virginia
Nau Hall - South Lawn
Charlottesville, VA 22904


(434) 924-7147
(434) 924-7891
M-F 8am to 4:30pm
Department Contacts