WiSe 13/14: Seeing Through the 1980s: Cultural Narratives of the Recent Past
The 1980s are often regarded as the decade of Reagan and the New Right, a neo gilded age of self-made success and rampant consumerism inhabited by material girls, idealized TV families and Wall ... read more
The 1980s are often regarded as the decade of Reagan and the New Right, a neo gilded age of self-made success and rampant consumerism inhabited by material girls, idealized TV families and Wall Street yuppies. Yet this period also saw intense social turmoil, the "culture wars" over American values and artistic freedom, the aggravation of inequality, and rising anxieties about the AIDS epidemics. This course introduces the students to the main cultural narratives which have defined the decade offering a sample of thematic and theoretical approaches to the study of the period. We will sketch out the import of cultural formations such as postmodernism, neoliberalism and "Reaganism" while investigating the arenas which hosted some crucial debates. In particular we will consider what happens to work and art in the face of unbridled (financial) capitalism, to race in the aftermath of the Civil Rights period and to feminism in an era of backlash. We will look at the discourse on AIDS and the family in a neoconservative climate and at the birth of cyberculture. These topics will be addressed through the analysis of primary sources such as novels (e.g. Neuromancer), plays (by Paula Vogel and August Wilson), films (Wall Street, Do the Right Thing), TV series (e.g. The Cosby Show) and the work of some visual artists (e.g. Basquiat).
The seminar will be held in English. close