Ryan Murphy, Assistant Professor of History
The 1970s, 1980s and 1990s were contentious decades. Anti-racist, feminist, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer activists were changing the way that people thought about love, sex and family. Those movements expressed their politics through provocative new forms of art, film and literature. During the same period, a growing evangelical Christian movement was using “social issues” – opposition to abortion, feminism and homosexuality – to galvanize its members. This class takes an interdisciplinary look at the ensuing struggle over sexuality, religion and art that historians have called “the culture wars”. This class pays particular attention to the way that ideas about the Midwest were used to pit the defenders of traditional “family values” against the presumed cultural radicalism of the northeast and west coasts. Students will read, write about, and discuss a variety of texts, from the performance art of Annie Sprinkle to the photography of Carrie Mae Weems to the political speeches of Pat Buchanan to the cultural analysis of Robin Kelley.