ENGL 2020-030: Themes in Literature and Culture: Mad Men and the Sixties


Fall 2015 | Room: PH322 | Day/Time: W 600-900


About This Course | About David Lavery | Required Texts | Supplemental Books | Class Members | Website/Links | Power Points | Course Requirements | Agenda


About This Course

 This course will engage in a multi-disciplinary and multi-media exploration of the 1960s as seen reflected in acclaimed AMC series Mad Men (2007-2015), itself a kind of novel for television, and its intertextual relations with the thought, art, and culture of the American 1960s.


Dr. David Lavery

Office—PH 316 | Office Hours—Monday: 100-400; Tuesday: 900-1100, 100-400; Wednesday: 900-1100, 100-300; Thursday: 900-1100, 100-400 | E-mail—david.lavery@mtsu.edu | david.lavery@gmail.com | Office Phone/Voice-Mail—615-898-5648 | Home Page—http://davidlavery.net


Dr. David Lavery is Director of Graduate Studies and Professor in the English Department at Middle Tennessee State University (1993- ). The recipient of the University's 2006 Distinguished Research Award, he is the author of over one hundred and fifty published essays, chapters, and reviews and the author / co-author / editor / co-editor of twenty-two books, including Joss Whedon, A Creative Portrait: From Buffy the Vampire Slayer to The Avengers, TV Goes to Hell: An Unofficial Road Map of Supernatural, The Essential Cult Television Reader, and The Essential Sopranos Reader. The co-convener of international conferences on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the work of Joss Whedon and The Sopranos; co-founder of the Whedon Studies Association and its journal Slayage and founding editor of Critical Studies in Television, he has lectured around the world on the subject of television (Australia, Turkey, the UK, Portugal, New Zealand, Ireland, Germany), been a guest/source for the BBC, NPR, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, The New York Times, A Folha de Sao Paulo (Brazil), Publica (Portugal), Information (Netherlands), AP, The Toronto Star, USA Today, and from 2006-2008 taught film and television at Brunel University in London. He contributed an essay to Gary Edgerton's important book of critical essays on Mad Men, wrote about the series' creator Matthew Weiner for The Essential Sopranos Reader, and, with MTSU's Jane Marcellus, is the co-convener of an international symposium on Mad Men (date and location to be announced).


Required Texts



Go here to find a Table of Contents for the the Portable Sixties Reader.


Supplemental Reading


Click on the covers to order the books from Amazon.


Class Members

Clarissa Ceffalo | Ronald Collins | Hunter Coppinger | Baltazar Escobar | Raven Evans | Nathan Fair | Jonathan Ferrick | Ricardo Gonzalez | Jordan Hoganson | Ciara Holder | Christopher Joyner | Bethany LePrade | Irene Librado | Justin Montgomery | Joshua Michael Paul | Elijah Prather | Deonta Ridley | Kevin Schieffer | Hunter Simpson | Krista Stahl | Michael Vail | Brian Vanderspuy





The Sixties: Movies of the 1960s Movies About the 1960s Television in the 1960s
Painting in the 1960s Literature of the 1960s 30 Best Films of the '60s (Total Film) Timeline of the 1960s
Mad Men: AMC Fresh Air The Gothamicist
Mad Men on IMDB Mad Men on the Laverytory The Mad Men Reading List Mad Men Unbuttoned
Mad Men Wiki Matthew Weiner's Mad Men (Museum of the Moving Image) Onion TV Club Salon

10 Films That Inspired Mad Men, According to Matthew Weiner

Thirty Best Mad Men Episodes (Rolling Stone) Vulture
Others: Lee Bluestein Mad Magazine (Studio 360: Americans Icons)  


Power Points


Mad Men: Season 1 Season 2 Season 3
Season 4 Season 5 Season 6 Season 7
Mad Men Characters Significant Mad Men Episodes    
The Sixties: Advertising Art Cheever
Civil Rights The Counterculture Feminism Literature
Movies O'Hara Plath Rock & Roll
Television Vietnam    
Movies and Television AMC Quality Television  The New Wave
Cinema Verite      




Course Requirements

Writing: Completion of two of the following: [A] a study of a single episode of Mad Men; [B] a study of a television series, a movie, a work of literature, music, or art of the 1960s; [C] an essay-review of a book on/from the Sixties [go here to learn more; go here to see suggested titles (under construction)]; [D] a multi-generic study of a Mad Men/Sixties theme; [E] a study of any of these aspects of Mad Men: acting | authorship | character | costuming | editing | gender | genre | history | intertextuality / self-referentiality | language | mise-en-scène | music | narratology | paratexts | point of view | Quality television | race | realism | semiotics | violence | another aspect/technique approved by me.

Length: each approximately 1250 words | Weight: Each worth 30% of course grade. Due: TBA

A take-home essay final exam, in which you will write two 750 word essays on your choice from ten possible topics supplied by me. Weight: 20% of course grade.

Class Participation: Weight: 20% of course grade.



Meeting 1 | 8/26/15

Introduction to the Course | Power Point(s):  Meeting One

Meeting 2 | 9/2/15

Case Study: Advertising | Mad Men Season 1: "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" or "Kennedy and Nixon"

Meeting 3 | 9/9/15

Case Study: Kennedy/Nixon | Mad Men Season 1: "The Wheel"

Meeting 4 | 9/16/15

Case Study: Movies | Mad Men Season 2: "Six Month Leave" or "The Jet Set"

Meeting 5 |  9/23/15

Portable Sixties Reader—Part One: Civil Rights | Feminine Mystique: Chapters 1-5 | Case Study: Movies (cont.) | Mad Men Season 2: "Meditations in an Emergency"

Meeting 6 | 9/30/15

Portable Sixties Reader—Part Two: Vietnam | Feminine Mystique: Chapters 6-10  | Case Study: Rock & Roll | Mad Men Season 3: "The Gypsy and the Hobo" or "Seven Twenty Three"

Meeting 7 | 10/7/15

Portable Sixties Reader—Part Three: Free Speech | Feminine Mystique: Chapters 11-14 | Case Study: Rock & Roll (cont.) | Mad Men Season 3: "Guy Walks into an Advertising Agency" or "Shut the Door, Have a Seat"

10/10-13/15: Fall Break

Meeting 8 | 10/14/15

Portable Sixties Reader—Part Four: Counterculture | Stories of John Cheever: "The Enormous Radio"; "The Five-Forty-Eight"; "The Housebreaker of Shady Hill" | Case Study: The Space Age | Mad Men Season 4: "Tomorrowland" or "The Good News"

Meeting 9 | 10/21/15

Portable Sixties Reader—Part Five: Drugs | Stories of John Cheever:  "The Country Husband" and "Chimera" | Case Study: God is Dead | Mad Men Season 4: "The Beautiful Girls" or "The Suitcase"

Meeting 10 | 10/28/15

Portable Sixties Reader—Part Six: The Beats | Stories of John Cheever:  "The Swimmer" and "Another Story" | Case Study: Pop Art & Sixties Painting | Mad Men Season 5: "At the Codfish Ball" or "Lady Lazarus"

Meeting 11 | 11/4/15

Portable Sixties Reader—Part Seven: Black Arts | Sylvia Plath: all | Case Study: Poetry in the Sixties | Mad Men Season 5: "Far Away Places" or "Signal 30"

Meeting 12 | 11/11/15

Portable Sixties Reader—Part Eight: Women's Movement | Frank O'Hara: first half | Case Study: Television | Mad Men Season 6: "The Qualities of Mercy"

Meeting 13 | 11/18/15

Portable Sixties Reader—Part Nine: Defense of the Earth | Frank O'Hara: second half | Case Study: Television (cont.) | Mad Men Season 6: "In Care Of"

11/25/15: Thanksgiving, No Class

Meeting 14 | 11/25/15

Portable Sixties Reader—Part Ten: Elegies for the Sixties | Case Study: Postmodernism | Mad Men Season 7: "A Day's Work" and "Waterloo"

Meeting 15 | 12/2/15

Final Meeting: The Mad Men Finale ("Person to Person")

Final Exam Week 12/4-10/15

Our final will be held on 12/9/15 at 600 pm.