Re: Future of '60s courses? (multiple responses)

Thu, 6 Nov 1997 16:43:41 -0500


From: Scott Walter <>
Subject: Re: Future of '60s courses?

Personally, I still see a lot of interest in sixties courses across a
broad range of students. Here at Indiana, we have at least one faculty
member in History who regularly offers a course on the decade. We also
have a faculty member in English who does a course on the 50s and 60s.
Both courses "sell out" every time. Last year, I taught a broader course
on youth culture, but spent a solid month on the sixties. It was

There continues to be interest among the students in the 60s, but we have
to make sure that they see beyond the "hip consumerism" that has become so
closely identified with the decade. Many of my students react to the
sixties as part of their reaction to their parents (which can be good or
bad). I think that they can become genuinely interested in studying the
decade and its movements once we get them beyond the familiar terrain on
drugs, pop music and long hair (which is a lot of what they hear about
from their elders, read about in the news, and see on TV).

With the 30th anniversary of 1968 coming up, we sould work even harder to
teach the rising generation about the events of the decade.

O.K., I'm off my soapbox :->


Scott Walter, Ph.D. candidate
History of Education and American Studies
Indiana University

"To be radical is to go to the root, and the root is man himself."

Karl Marx (1848)


From: Archie Loss <>
Subject: Future of 60s courses: further comment

I must disagree with the negative assessments of sixties courses/books
rendered by Sandra Hollins and others in recent communiques. Perhaps
it is my approach by way of popular culture (music, movies, the
media), but my course on the sixties (in our American Studies
sequence) is quite popular and fills up on a regular basis.
Furthermore,--and I don't mention this just to puff the book--Harcourt
Brace was quite happy to accept my idea for a book on popular arts and
media in the sixties for their America Since 1945 series, on the
editorial premise (yet to be proved, of course) that it would sell.
My experience with students is that they have a great deal of
curiosity about the sixties but little knowledge of its details. They
frequently know musical groups (or individual singer-songwriters) very
well, but not the political or social context of their music. The
same point would apply to movies and other aspects of American popular
culture. In cases where fathers or other close relatives have served
in Vietnam and yet rarely have talked about their experiences,
students are motivated by a more personal form of curiosity. Is my
experience with this subject matter some kind of aberration? I rather
doubt it, because Penn State students represent a fairly good cross
section of the current college age population and, what's more, tend
to be rather conservative in their politics.