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The Paradox of the American Character

The Paradox of the American Character

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The Paradox of the American Character

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  1. The Paradox of the American Character Analyze the conflicting elements of consensus and dissent in America during the late 1940’s-1950’s

  2. Political consensusthe election of 1950

  3. Joe McCarthy • He made sweeping accusations, employed guilt by association • and documents out of context • McCarthy’s Senate hearings created an atmosphere of conformity and fear

  4. Whittaker Chambers –Alger Hiss

  5. Whittaker Chambers –Alger Hiss • HUAC created in 1945 to root out communism during the "Red Scare" after WWII that lasted into the mid-1950s • Hiss denied being a Communist agent in the 1930s but was convicted of perjury in 1950 and sentenced to 5 years in prison.

  6. Julius and Ethel Rosenberg

  7. Julius and Ethel Rosenberg • Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were convicted and executed for allegedly giving atomic bomb secrets to the Soviets. • Both were avowed communists.

  8. The “Red Scare”

  9. The “Red Scare” • American Fears -- Paranoia regarding communism and its sympathizers plus nuclear war. • Culture reflected these fears: movies such as Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Blob, and They

  10. “Duck and Cover” • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IKqXu-5jw60

  11. Social consensus

  12. Servicemen’s Readjustment Act • Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 sent millions of veterans to school.

  13. The Baby Boom

  14. The Baby Boom • Between 1946 and 1961, 63.5 million babies were born • Between 1931 and 1946, only 41.5 million born

  15. Suburbanization

  16. Suburbanization • Grew 6X faster than cities in 1950s. • Resulted from increased car production, white flight from urban areas due to black migration.

  17. The Cult of Domesticity • The concept of a woman’s place being in the home was widespread in magazines, TV, and society in general. • TV shows: Father Knows Best, Ozzie & Harriet, Leave it to Beaver • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sam9wP_uMEA

  18. Economic Abundance between 1950-60 • Americans enjoyed about 40% of world’s wealth despite accounting for only 6% of population. • Americans bought cars, gadgets for their homes, vacations, etc. in unprecedented numbers

  19. Economic Abundance between 1950-60 • TV Sets owned • 1 Million-42 Mil • Automobile Registrations • 40 -62 Million • Home Ownership • 24 Million-33 Million • Enrollment in US School • 5,000-10,000 high school • 21,000-33,000 elementary • Median Family Income • 3,100-5,700$ per year • Savings Accounts • 2.5 Billion-24 Billion Historical Statistics of the US, Colonial times to 1970

  20. Dissent in the 1950’s

  21. Rebelliousness in film Angst of American youth reflected by movie stars Marlon Brando and James Dean Movie stars became icons for disaffected youth.

  22. Rebel Without a Cause • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7hZ9jKrwvo&feature=related • Streetcar Named Desire • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S1A0p0F_iH8

  23. Art: Abstract expressionism Artists attempted spontaneous expression of their subjectivity using splattered paint and color field painting. Jackson Pollock, Willem deKooning, and Mark Rothko.

  24. http://www.sfmoma.org/explore/multimedia/videos/249

  25. The Beat generation (beatniks) - late 1950s • Group of young men Rebelled against the conformity and conservatism of middleclass America alienated by 20th-century life. • Jack Kerouac: On the Road became the "bible" for restless youth. • Other prominent figures included Allen Ginsburg who wrote "Howl" in 1956.

  26. Jack Kerouac

  27. Allen Ginsberg • http://www.poetryarchive.org/poetryarchive/singlePoem.do?poemId=1548

  28. Rock n Roll • Rock n’ Roll became the music of the younger generation and emphasized the increasing generation gap between youth and their parents.

  29. Analyze the conflicting elements of consensus and dissent in America during the late 1940’s-1950’s • Assessment: Analogy Creation • To see the American Character repeat itself from era to era take 6 items of content from the presentation and find a similar aspect from a different era on American History. • Choose 3 items describing consensus and 3 items for dissent. • Each comparison should have a short write up describing the similarity.