HIST-LIT 90DV: Red Scares

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2021

Instructor: Steve Biel and Lauren Kaminsky
Meeting time: Tuesday, 12:00-2:45

Red ScaresSocialism was a buzzword of the 2020 U.S. election, and some have even argued that associating Joe Biden with Venezuelan and Cuban socialism helped Donald Trump win the state of Florida. This course reveals how charges of fealty to radical “foreign” ideologies have operated as rhetorical and political strategies for much of U.S. history. The so-called First Red Scare, precipitated by World War I and the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, followed on fears and persecution of anarchists, socialists, and other labor radicals in the late-19th and early-20th centuries. In the Second Red Scare after World War II, the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), Senator Joseph McCarthy, the FBI, and others conducted widespread investigations of suspected communists and purged “subversives” from all levels of government, the entertainment industry, public and private schools, colleges and universities. Beginning with mid 19th-century fears that revolutionary uprisings could spread from Europe to the United States, “Red Scares” explores anxieties about subversion and perversion in American politics and culture. Readings will include texts by Emma Goldman, Eugene V. Debs, Sacco and Vanzetti, John Dos Passos, Langston Hughes, Elia Kazan, Richard Wright, Whittaker Chambers, and Lillian Hellman, as well as films such as Bisbee ‘17, On the Waterfront, My Son John, The Lavender Scare, Salt of the Earth, and The Manchurian Candidate.