HIST-LIT 90FY: Culture Wars

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2023

Instructor: Steve Biel and Lauren Kaminsky
Meeting time: Monday, 12:45-2:45 pm

In 1992, former Nixon speechwriter and presidential candidate Pat Buchanan claimed that the United States was engaged in “a cultural war, as critical to the kind of nation we shall be as was the Cold War itself, for this war is for the soul of America.” The idea that the nation was embroiled in a culture war with nothing less than its soul at stake has its contemporary origins in the upheavals of the 1960s. Culture warriors took on the defense of “color blindness” against affirmative action and “identity politics”; of “family values” against feminism, homosexuality, and abortion; of literary and artistic canons and scholarly “standards” against “trendiness” and “political correctness.” Through polemics, speeches, essays, memoirs, fiction, television, films, and photography, this course examines discourses and representations of the culture wars from the 1960s to the 1990s with the aim of deepening our understanding of their historical contexts and political ramifications into our present moment.