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The Brief American Pageant , Sixth Edition
David M. Kennedy, Stanford University
Lizabeth Cohen, Harvard University
Thomas A. Bailey
Mel Piehl, Valparaiso University
Suggested Lecture Topics
Chapter 38
Developing The Chapter: Suggested Lecture Or Discussion Topics


  • Describe the general domestic atmosphere of the Eisenhower years: broad economic prosperity (with occasional recessions) and broad social consensus based on the New Deal and anticommunism. The emphasis might be on seeing this harmony as a reaction to the turbulent 1930s and 1940s and also noting some of the hidden anxieties of the time.

    REFERENCE: David Halberstam, The Fifties (1993).

  • Explain the up-and-down atmosphere of the Cold War in the 1950s. Note the general improvement in relations from Stalin's day, but also the numerous conflicts and the arms race that constantly threatened nuclear annihilation.

    REFERENCE: Thomas J. McCormick, America's Half Century: U.S. Foreign Policy in the Cold War (1989).

  • Examine the growing importance of civil rights issues in the 1950s, as illustrated by Brown v. Board of Education and King's Montgomery bus boycott. The slow pace of court-ordered desegregation might be contrasted with the increasing determination of blacks to attack the still-pervasive Jim Crow system.

    REFERENCE: Taylor Branch, Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-1963 (1988).

  • Consider the initial impact of television on all areas of American life in the 1950s, including politics, consumption (advertising), family life, religion, and popular culture.

    REFERENCE: Lynn Spiegel, Make Room for TV: Television and the Family Ideal in Postwar America (1992).



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