Primary Sources


Cheever, “Country Husband”


Fleming, Casino Royale


Wilson, The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit


Greene, Our Man in Havana


Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room


Kerouac, On the Road




Best Years of Our Lives


Panic in the Streets


Rebel Without a Cause


Kiss Me Deadly


Dr. Strangelove



Text Box:




In America’s collective memory the 1950s is a  time of prosperity, of innocence, of family values, and the suburban American dream. It was the image put forward in Norman Rockwell’s covers for The Saturday Evening Post, in Coca Cola ads, in T.V. shows such as “Leave it to Beaver.” But underneath this idealistic representation America was a country torn by racism, by the traumas of  World War Two, by Cold War paranoia. It was also a time when gender roles were reinforced in popular culture.

           This class will examine the construction and socialization of masculinity and, by proxy, femininity in a diverse texts, ranging from popular hypermasculine thrillers to best sellers to classics of the beat movement. We will also watch a variety of films. All of these texts explore different pressures of gender, aspects of culture, and functions of media. Underneath it all will be the disparity between reality and the fiction of history.

1/5: No Class


1/10: Introductions, reading culture, reading magazines.

1/12: John Cheever, “The Country Husband” (rt click and “save as”; Essay, Kirby Farrell, “Post-Traumatic Culture


1/17: No Class

1/19: Film: “Best Years of Our Lives,” (to be watched online), or, rt click here and “save as.” avi format. 


1/24: Film, “Kiss Me Deadly” (in class); Propaganda Films (watch online); Read the two articles by Scheff and Courdileone

1/26: Discussion, also group organization

Context: bachelor magazines, essay, Scholes and Wolfman, “How to Read a Modernist Magazine.”


1/31: Ian Fleming, Casino Royale: 1-110

2/2: Fleming, finish


2/7: Film, “Panic in the Streets”; Essay: Gelber,  “Do-It-Yourself: Constructing, Repairing, and Maintaining Masculinity” American Quarterly, 49.1 (project muse)

2/9: Discussion


2/14: Reading: Wilson, The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit Context, magazine advertisements

2/16: Wilson, finish, Paper one Due

Context: Argosy and True


2/21: Film, “Dr. Strangelove”

2/23: cont.


2/28: Graham Greene, Our Man in Havana, 1—120 (up to part four)

3/2: Greene, Finish


3/7: Film, “Rebel without a Cause”

3/9: Discussion


3/14: spring break

3/16: spring break


3/21: Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room, -- 102 (part two, chapter three)

3/23: Baldwin, finish. Paper Two Due


3/28: Intro to Beat Culture

3/30: Jack Kerouac, On the Road, Part 1


4/4:Jack Kerouac: On the Road, read to 178 (part three)

4/6: Kerouac, Finish


4/11: Group work / safety day.

4/13: Group Proof reading workshop

[web page template] rt click, save as


4/18: Presentations and web page due

4/20: no class




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In Lit3084

Spring Semester