A number of excellent works challenging the stereotypes of conformist
white middle class ubiquity in the 1950s already exist. W.T. Lhamon's
_Deliberate Speed_ challenges the 1950s stereotypes through the music,
film, art, and literature of the decade. The book was published in the
early 1990s. As the title of the book alludes(A line from Brown vs Board
of Ed decision), he deals alot with black culture, although not
exclusively, and reveals a vibrant culture that often remains ignored.
A bit later in the 1990s Robert Ellwood wrote _The Fifties Spiritual
Marketplace_. Some of you may recognize Ellwood's name because
he wrote _The Sixties Spiritual Awakening_ (a fine look at religion and
postmodernism in the 1960s). His book on the 1950s shows a lot of the
burgeoning spiritual undercurrents that broke to the surface during the
1960s. He argues that to be religious in the 1950s meant being firmly
within the Jewish-Catholic-Protestant sphere, but cracks in that
authoritative powerbase were forming.
They both are worth reading although Lhamon's work will probably interest
the people on this list more than Ellwood's.
On Tue, 6 Jun 2000, Marty Jezer wrote:
> At 06:34 AM 6/6/2000 -0400, you wrote:
> > Anyway, I remember the later 50's as being an
> >extremely exciting and hopeful period. We felt change in the air.
> >Gretchen Dutschke
> Speaking of the complexity of generations, we need a fresh look at the
> fifties. The conformist, organization man, suburban buttoned-down repress
> fifties was the mainstream reality, but there was so much going on beneath
> the surface. As Abbie Hoffman once said, "there wouldn't have been the
> sixties, if not for the fifties." Or something like that.
> Bebop and hard bop, the first folk revival (a breakthrough for what the
> Almanacs/Weavers were trying to do), the beats and abstract expressionists,
> the sick comics (Lenny Bruce,
> Mort Sahl, etc.) iconoclasts like radio's Jean Shepherd, the Village Voice,
> doo wop (and white kids getting seriously into black music), not to mention
> in politics the ban the bombers
> (Committee for Nonviolent Action and SANE), the NYC air raid protests
> (Catholic Workers and WRL). The consensus that dominated the corporate
> fifties began to fracture in the mid-fifties and it was from the
> underground ferment that the new left and the counter-culture was born.
> The civil rights movement had it's own antecedents but the fact that so
> many young whites were ready to embrace the cause stems from the ferment of
> the fifties.
> Just wingin' it,
> Marty Jezer
> Marty Jezer * 22 Prospect St. * Brattleboro, VT 05301 * p/f 802 257-5644
> Stuttering: A Life Bound Up in Words (Basic Books)
> Abbie Hoffman: American Rebel (Rutgers University Press)
> The Dark Ages: Life in the USA, 1945-1960 (South End Press)
> Rachel Carson [American Women of Achievement Series] (Chelsea House)
> Check out my web page: http://www.sover.net/~mjez
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