Contemporary North American Culture - 1st semester


a) To master adequate knowledge of contemporary North-American culture, with special focus on the impact of the 1950s and 1960s on present events and experiences.
b) To contextualize the internal debates those shaped the answers to internal crises, and identify cultural, social and aesthetic trends in the period under examination.
c) To be able to read critically relevant primary sources (essays, press reports, films and personal memoirs).
d) To organize and produce a small research project on a topic of the syllabus.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Teresa Botelho da Silva


Weekly - 4

Total - Available soon

Teaching language



Non Applicable.


CHAFE, William The Unfinished Journey:America Since World War II (6th revised Ed.) New York: Oxford University Press 2007.
CHAFE, William/ Harvard Sitkoff (ed) A History of Our Time: Readings in Postwar America. (7th revised Ed.) New York: Oxford University Press 2007.
BIGBSY, Christopher (ed.) The Cambridge Companion to Modern American Culture . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2006.
HOGSON, Godfrey More Equal than Others: America from Nixon to the New Century. Princeton: Princeton University Press 2006. FIELD, Ron Civil Rights in America 1865-1980. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2002.

Teaching method

Teaching Method
Exposition of the basic concepts of the syllabus, complemented by class discussion of the primary sources under discussion.

Evaluation method

Critical response paper based on the assigned readings (40%)
Exam consisting of two mini-essays (60%)

Subject matter

1- The United States at the end of WWII
2- Great Expectations: The United States in the 1950s
2.1. Optimism and anxiety in the era of abundance
- Internal and external dimensions of the Cold war
-The Affluent Society and the Baby Boom
-The new American Sociology and the fear of conformity
-Mass culture and its critics
-Back to the past: images of the feminine in the 50s
2.2. Fractures and dissent in the silent decade
-The African-American awakening: from Montgomery to Little Rock
-Dissidents of Affluence- beats, hipsters and suburban rebels
-Theatre and Cinema in the 1950s
3. Hope and Discord in the 1960s
3.1. A time of Consensus
- Kennedy and the New Frontier
-The Cold War revisited
-The reconfiguration of the racial problem
-The “Other America” and the Great Society Project
3.2. A time of Conflict
-The Quagmire of Vietnam
-Counter culture and new sensibility
-Pop Art, and 60s cinema
-The name of the problem: feminism reborn
- Witnessing reality: the old and new journalism
-Integration and separation; African-American crossroads
- Stonewall and other liberations: the politics of identity.