ENGL 6480 and 7480, Studies in Contemporary Literature: Mad Men and the Sixties


Under Construction

Summer 2015 | Room: PH 322 | Day/Time: TWR 215-515

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. Each seminarian will be expected to (1) watch all seven seasons of Mad Men (available on Netflix), (2) read Ann Charters' Portable Sixties Reader, selections from The Hidden Persuaders, The Feminine Mystique, John Cheever's short fiction, Sylvia Plath's Ariel, and Frank O'Hara's poetry, and (3) master and then represent a significant text from the period.


Dr. David Lavery

Office—PH 316 | Office Hours—TBA | 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

T. Mark Bentley [Class Expert on The Harvard Psychedelic Club (Lattin)] | Rachel Donegan [Class Expert on Revolutionary Road (Yates)] | Amy A. Harris-Aber [Class Expert on Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M. (Wasson)] | Heather Listhartke [Class Expert on Sex and the Single Girl (Brown) ] | Starshield Lortie [Class Expert on The King Years (Branch) ] | Aaron Shapiro [Class Expert on Understanding Media (McLuhan)] | Hillary Yeager [Class Expert on Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (Kesey)]




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.

All topics should be approved by me. Length: each 2000 words (MA students)/3,000 words (PhD students) | Weight: Each worth 40% of course grade. Due: One (your choice) by midnight, July 23rd; a second by midnight, August 6th. Submit via the appropriate D2L drop boxes.

Class Participation: (1) Each seminarian will choose one of the Supplemental Readings (see above) and be expected to, when called upon, serve as its expert representative in class discussion (for clarification, go here); (2) daily involvement in class discussion; (3) class presentation of an assigned Mad Men episode; (4) class presentation of an assigned movie or television series/episode [make your claim via e-mail; go here to learn more]; (5) other presentations as assigned. | Weight: 20% of course grade.



Week One

7/7/15 | Meeting 1

Hidden Persuaders: Mark Crispin Miller's "Introduction" | Case Study: Advertising | Mad Men Season 1: "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" or "Kennedy and Nixon"

7/8/15 | Meeting 2

Hidden Persuaders: "Persuading Us as Citizens" | Case Study: Kennedy/Nixon | Mad Men Season 1: "The Wheel"

7/9/15 | Meeting 3

Hidden Persuaders: "Persuading Us as Citizens" | Case Study: Movies | Mad Men Season 2: "Six Month Leave" or "The Jet Set"

Week Two

7/14/15 | Meeting 4

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

7/15/15 | Meeting 5

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"

7/16/15 | Meeting 6

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"

Week Three

7/21/15 | Meeting 7

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"

7/22/15 | Meeting 8

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"

7/23/15 | Meeting 9

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"

Week Four

7/28/15 | Meeting 10

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"

7/29/15 | Meeting 11

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

7/30/15 | Meeting 12

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"

Week Five

8/4/15 | Meeting 13

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

8/5/15 | Meeting 14

Case Study: Postmodernism (cont.) | Mad Men Season 7: "Waterloo"