English 151G 1960s Countercultures in Stanford’s Special Collections Professor Adena Spingarn

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Preliminary syllabus—subject to change

English 151G

1960s Countercultures in Stanford’s Special Collections

Professor Adena Spingarn

From the poetry of the Beats to the protest of the Black Panthers, 1960s countercultures loudly challenged social, aesthetic, and political conventions. While some dissented to mainstream American culture by burning bras, marching for peace, dropping out, and tuning in, others experienced countercultures largely through the media. This course uses the rich resources available only in Stanford’s Special Collections to explore the ideas, sensibilities, and media representations of 1960s countercultures including civil rights, anti-war, back-to-nature environmentalism, the Beats, feminism, hippies, gay liberation, and Black Power. Meeting each week in Special Collections, students will examine unique archival sources (Allen Ginsberg’s recordings of Howl, underground comics, letters, photographs, psychedelic rock posters, scrapbooks, LIFE magazine, and more) in order to understand how 1960s countercultural movements sought to revolutionize every aspect of American culture, from individual consciousness to foreign and military policy. This course will be of particular interest to student activists who want to better understand and build on the dissenting traditions of the past. In the spirit of the student-led classrooms of the 1960s, students will become primary investigators of their own original research questions. Course readings will lighten as students spend more time doing independent research in Special Collections.


James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time (Vintage, ISBN 9780679744726)

Ann Charters, ed. The Portable Sixties Reader (Penguin, ISBN 9780142001943)
All Monday class sessions will take place in Building 40, Room 42A; all Wednesday class sessions will meet in the Barchas Room at Green Library.

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