American Cultures After 1945

Spring 2016-2017


Michael Dango

This course is a survey of United States cultural production from 1945 to the present, organized by specific publics and cultures that these products have precipitated, mediated, or represented. In particular, we will consider the literature and visual culture of four loose groupings: Protest Cultures (especially antiwar and antiracist art and literature from the 1950s-1960s), Sex Cultures (1960s-1970s work from the "sexual liberation," including in its feminist and pro-gay varieties), Trauma Cultures (work memorializing racial, ethnic, and sexual violence in the 1980s-1990s), and Polarized Cultures (artistic production typical of the "culture wars" from the 1990s to the present). The course is therefore structured both chronologically and thematically, inviting students to make historically specific but culturally expansive connections across media, identity categories, political affiliations, and the high/low art divide. To do so, students will develop skills in "reading" novels, poems, photographs, comics, films, and music videos alike for cultural evidence. (B)