Student Projects

Here are some of the final papers and other projects from previous offerings of HONR 269J, The Beat Begins: American Culture in the 1950s. They are the intellectual property of their respective authors, and please treat them accordingly.

"Douglas Sirk's Magnificent Obsession: The Melodrama" (Tiffany Ayres)
A website exploring several of Sirk's most influential movies, with critical analysis, brief biography, and sources.
"Muses or Maestros? Women of the Beat Generation" (Angela D. Baccala)
A discussion of the status and role of women in the Beat movement, taking as a point of departure Brenda Knight's recent Women of the Beat Generation.
"Stan Kenton: Progressive Concepts in Jazz" (Michael Boyd)
A musical analysis of Kenton's innovations in the 1940s and 1950s, with several sound clips.
"Thirty Minute Reality Check: How The Twilight Zone Reflected American Society in the 1950s" (Meredith Brenner)
A close look at Rod Serling and his popular TV show, focusing on the way Serling deals with social issues.
"Billy Graham: Man and Ministry in the Fifties" (Natalie Bucheimer)
An exploration of the early career of Billy Graham, with special attention to Graham's relation to political and social trends of the 1950s.
"Sputnik: The Satellite That Inspired Generations" (Kate Castell)
A paper exploring the impact on U.S. culture of the Russian Sputnik launch on October 4, 1957.
"I Love Lucy: Why America Loved Her and What She Meant to Us" (Lily Chang)
A close look at what made the show America's first smash-hit sitcom.
"I have nothing to say and I'm saying it...": John Cage Defined in the 1950s (Joe Dacey)
An examination of the development of John Cage in the 1950s.
"The Creation of Disneyland" (Reese Fischer)
An exploration of the birth and early reception of Disneyland.
"Chuck Berry and Teenage Culture in the 1950s" (Michael Gallant-Gardner)
A paper looking at the rise of Chuck Berry and his influence on teen culture in the 1950s.
"Volkswagen in the 1950s" (Chuck Haine)
A website devoted to the history of Volkswagen in the 1950s. With lots of illustrations, advertisements, and links to other resources.
"Speeding Toward Death: Neal Cassady, Charlie Parker, and Escape in the 1950s" (Jennifer Hartt)
A paper that takes Cassady and Parker as emblematic of a reaction to some of the social forces of the 1950s.
"Women in the 1950s Workplace" (Heather C. Hunt)
A website on women's issues, especially employment, in the 1950s.
"Charles Mingus in the 1950s" (Philip Jones)
A look at the mercurial bassist's most fertile years.
"'Howl': How the Poem Came to Be and How it Made Allen Ginsberg Famous" (Amy Kaeufer)
Explores the genesis and early reception of Ginsberg's most famous poem.
"Allen Ginsberg, Covert Patriot" (Raanan Kagan)
A paper exploring Ginsberg's "Howl" and "America," reading them as expressions of Ginsberg's love of America.
The McDonaldization of Society (Mariya Levin)
A website looking at some of the pros and cons of America's fixation on uniformity and standarization.
"Social Criticism in the Hollywood Melodramas of the Fifties" (Delia Lyons)
Looks at two important Douglas Sirk melodramas of the 1950s: Magnificicent Obsession (1954) and Imitation of Life (1959), focusing on ways in which they question common attitudes.
"From Zero to 1950s: The Chevrolet Corvette from '53 to '62" (Norm Ostrove)
Some insights into our fascination with the first great American sports car. Lots of great photos, too.
"Fashions of the 1950s: Cultural Meanings and Manifestations" (Andrea Beth Petzko)
A website looking exploring some of the important developments in women's fashion in the postwar years.
"It Came from the 1950s: Science Fiction and American Angst" (Prima Prasertrat)
A website looking into some of the iconic examples of American Cold-War anxiety.
"Fear of Polio in the 1950s" (Beth Sokol)
An examination of the polio scares of the 1940s and 1950s, concluding with the work of Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin.
"Teenage Dating in the 1950s" (Windy Sombat)
A look at teenage dating habits and tendencies in the 50s -- logistics, economics, etc.
"J.D. Salinger: The influence of an author and his writings on 1950s America" (Juliana Stevenson)
A paper exploring the work and influence of the author of Catcher in the Rye, one of the seminal taxts of the 1950s.
"The History of Chess Records" (Ben Stewart)
A website focused on the music and artists of Chess Records in the 1950s. With pictures and sounds from Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, and others.
"An Examination of Television's Quiz Show Scandals of the 1950s" (Katie Venanzi)
Focused on the scandals surrounding Twenty-One and other TV quiz shows, with special emphasis on public reactions.
"The Bop Beat" (Shihwe Wang)
A look at the ways in which jazz shapes beat life and writing.
"The Blind Leading The Blind" (Micha Weinblatt)
A paper looking at Jewish contributions to the early Civil Rights movement.
"Barbie: The Early History" (Erica Wolf)
America's most famous doll -- the early years in the 1950s.