Stephen J. Whitfield, The Culture of the Cold War (1991, 2d. Ed., 1996)
- In The Culture of the Cold War, Stephen Whitfield examines the ways in which the Cold War shaped American popular culture. He focuses especially on popular culture forms, from television to film, and includes behaviors and beliefs, such as American popular faith and the politics of "informing." His epilogue, added to the Second Edition in 1996, is a thoughtful essay on the challenges of doing Cold War history for contemporary scholars.
- Questions to Think About:
- 1) What is Whitfield's thesis in The Culture of the Cold War? How does he support this thesis with his argument? What is the distinctive contribution his study makes to our understanding of Cold War culture? (See the Elements of a Monograph for information about identifying thesis and argument.)
- 2) How does Whitfield's study interact with the historiography that preceded it? What are the weaknesses he identifies in earlier studies of Cold War culture? To what can one attribute these weaknesses? How does his study compare with Boyer's By the Bomb's Early Light?
- 3) Why does Whitfield find it important to point out that the Cold War is over, when discussing the challenges of writing Cold War history?
- 4) In Rabbit at Rest, American novelist John Updike writes, "Without the Cold War, what's the point of being an American?" What would Whitfield have to say about this statement? What is the point of being an American without the Cold War?
Further resources and readings:
- David Halberstam, The Fifties (1993)
- J. Ronald Oakley, God's Country: America in the Fifties (1986)
- Joel Foreman, ed., The Other Fifties: Interrogating Midcentury American Icons (1997)
- Thomas Hill Schaub, American Fiction in the Cold War (1991)
- George Lipsitz, Class and Culture in Cold War America: "A Rainbow at Midnight" (1981)
- Margot A. Henriksen, Dr. Strangelove's America: Society and Culture in the Atomic Age (1997)
- Tom Engelhardt, The End of Victory Culture: Cold War America and the Disillusioning of a Generation (1995)
- Guy Oakes, The Imaginary War: Civil Defense and American Cold War Culture (1994)
- Walter L. Hixson, Parting the Curtain: Propaganda, Culture, and the Cold War, 1945-1961 (1997)
- Woody Haut, Pulp Culture: Hardboiled Fiction and the Cold War (1995)
- Lary May. ed., Recasting America: Culture and Politics in the Age of Cold War (1989)
- Michael Curtin, Redeeming the Wasteland: Television Documentary and Cold War Politics (1995)
- Richard M. Fried, The Russians are Coming! The Russians are Coming!: Pageantry and Patriotism in Cold-War America (1998)
Prepared by Professor Catherine Lavender for HST 622 (Cold War America), at The College of Staten Island of The City University of New York, Summer Semester 2000. Send email to email@example.com
Last modified: Thursday 15 June 2000.