HIST 4501, The Sixties: Photography, America, and the World, looks at how photography shaped the ways in which Americans interpreted and reacted to tumultuous events across the globe. Our focus will be on America's most influential magazine -- Life -- which employed some of the finest photojournalists of the era and reached tens of millions of readers every week. We will also consider how other media challenged Life's images and, in turn, affected Americans' understanding of world events.
Across the globe, 1960s was a dynamic period. The Civil Rights and anti-Vietnam War movements, the Cold War and anti-colonial struggles, the women's and environmental movements, and rock & roll and student protests fascinated Americans, generating concern, support, and sometimes fierce opposition. Relatively few people were directly involved in these events. Many found that their attitudes toward them were shaped by what they saw in popular media. Looking at the photographs and at people's responses to them will help us understand the history of the times.
Students will develop a research topic in which they explore the ways in which the photographs in Life and other media depicted a particular aspect of the Sixties, in the United States or globally, and shaped the ways Americans responded to it.