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

Summer 2015 | Room: PH 329 | Day/Time: TWR 215-515

About This Course | About David Lavery | Required Texts | Supplemental Books | Class Members | Websites/Links | Power Points | Course Requirements | Notes on Presentations | 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, 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/about the period. 


Dr. David Lavery

Office—PH 316 | Office Hours—TWR 900-1130, 100-215 | 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. Each student will also receive a Mad Men resource DVD.


Supplemental Reading/Viewing

Bush Donegan Listhartke Shapiro
  Whitaker Harris-Aber Lortie  
  Yeager     Bentley
Available in an electronic version from Walker Library.  


Click on the covers to order the books from Amazon.



Class Members

T. Mark Bentley [Class Expert on The Harvard Psychedelic Club (Lattin)] | Nicholas Bush [Class Expert on The Hidden Persuaders (Packard)] | 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)] | Brandyn Whitaker [Class Expert on Make Room for TV [Spigel]) | 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
Don Draper's Women First and Last Appearances of Mad Men Characters Mad Men Characters The New Yorker's Mad Men Countdown Cartoons
Significant Mad Men Episodes      
The Sixties: Advertising Art Books of the 1960s
Cheever Chronology of the Sixties Civil Rights The Counterculture
Feminism Movies about the 1960s Movies of the 1960s Music of the Sixties
O'Hara Plath Poetry of the Sixties Sixties People
Television of the Sixties Theatre of the 1960s Vietnam  
Others: Cinema Verite The Fifties The New Wave
Quality Television The Space Age    


Meeting Power Points

Nota bene: These Power Points will be composites of those above as well as other materials and will not be in final form until each class meeting.


Meeting 1 | Meeting 2 | Meeting 3 | Meeting 4 | Meeting 6 | Meeting 7 |

Meeting 8 | Meeting 9 | Meeting 10 | Meeting 11 | Meeting 12 | Meeting 13 | Meeting 14



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 5th. 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 [go here and here] or television series/episode [go here]; you will find Notes on Presentations here; make your claim via e-mail; (5) other presentations as assigned. | Weight: 20% of course grade.




Week One

7/7/15 | Meeting 1

Reading: Portable Sixties Reader [hereafter PSR]—The Sixties: A Chronology (xvii-xli) | Mad Men: Dream Come True TV (hereafter MMDCTTV): Thompson (xvii); Edgerton (xxi)

Case Study: Advertising | Screening: Bill Moyers' "Consuming Images" (available on Resource DVD)

Mad Men Season 1: "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" or "Kennedy and Nixon" | Power Points: Meeting 1; Syllabus; The Fifties

7/8/15 | Meeting 2

PSR Chronology: 1961 | Reading: MMDCTTV: Edgerton (3) | Case Study: Kennedy/Nixon | Screening: The Kennedy/Nixon Debate | Mad Men Season 1: "The Wheel" | Power Points: Meeting 2; Season 1

7/9/15 | Meeting 3

PSR Chronology: 1962 | Reading: MMDCTTV: Rose (25); Simon (42) | Case Study: The Movies (I) | Mad Men Season 2: "Six Month Leave" or "The Jet Set" | Power Points: Meeting 3 | Season 2; Movies of the 1960s; Movies About the 1960s.

Week Two

7/14/15 | Meeting 4

PSR Chronology: 1963 | Reading: PSR—Part One: Struggling to be Free: The Civil Rights Movement (6-101) | MMDCTTV: Perlman (14) | Case Study: The Movies (II) | Mad Men Season 2: "Meditations in an Emergency" [Mad Men Episode Leader [hereafter MMEL]: Bentley] | The Sixties: The Decade that Changed the World [hereafter SDCW]: "The World on the Brink" and "The Assassination of President Kennedy" | Power Points: Meeting 4 | Movie/TV Presentation [hereafter MTVP]: Yeager [An Education]

7/15/15 | Meeting 5

PSR Chronology: 1964 | Reading: PSR—Part Two: End It! And End It Now: The Anti-Vietnam War Movement (108-88) | MMDCTTV: Butler (55); Anderson (72) | Guest Speaker: Dr. Jimmie Cain | Case Study: Music (I) | Mad Men Season 3: "Guy Walks into an Advertising Agency" [MMEL: Bush] | SDCW: "The War in Vietnam"; "The British Invasion" | Power Points: Meeting 5; Season 3; Music  | MTVP: Whitaker [Night of the Living Dead]

7/16/15 | Meeting 6

PSR Chronology: 1965 | Reading: PSR—Part Three: Why Can We Not Begin New? The Free Speech Movement and Beyond (191-255) | MMDCTTV: Yacowar (86); Newcomb (101) | Case Study: Music (II) | Mad Men Season 3: "Shut the Door, Have a Seat" [MMEL: Donegan] | Power Points: Meeting 6  | MTVP: Shapiro [Don't Look Back]

Week Three

7/21/15 | Meeting 7

PSR Chronology: 1966 | Reading: PSR—Part Four: "I Feel Like I'm Fixin' To Die": The Counterculture Movement (259-325) | Stories of John Cheever: "The Enormous Radio"; "The Five-Forty-Eight"; "The Housebreaker of Shady Hill" | MMDCTTV: O'Sullivan (115); White (147) | Case Study: The Space Age | Mad Men Season 4: "The Suitcase" [MMEL: Harris-Aber] | SDCW: "The Space Race" | Power Points: Meeting 7; The Space Age; Season 4

7/22/15 | Meeting 8

PSR Chronology: 1967 | Reading: PSR—Part Five: Adrift in the Age of Aquarius: Drugs and the Movement into Inner Space (329-92) | Stories of John Cheever:  "The Country Husband" and "Chimera" | MMDCTTV: Haralovich (159); Akass and McCabe (177) | Case Study: God is Dead | Mad Men Season 4: "Tomorrowland" [MMEL: Listhartke] | SDCW: "Sex, Drugs, and Rock 'n' Roll" | Power Points: Meeting 8 | God is Dead  | MTVP: Bentley [2001: A Space Odyssey]

7/23/15 | Meeting 9

PSR Chronology: 1968 Reading: PSR—Part Six: Living in the Revolution: The Beats and Some Other Literary Movements at the Edge (395-439) | Stories of John Cheever:  "The Swimmer" and "Another Story" | MMDCTTV: Siska (195) | Case Study: Pop Art & Sixties Painting | Mad Men Season 5: "At the Codfish Ball" [MMEL: Lortie] | SDCW: "1968" | Power Points: Meeting 9; Season 5; Art | MTVP: Donegan [Selma]

Week Four

7/28/15 | Meeting 10

PSR Chronology: 1969 | Reading: PSR—Part Seven: Out of the Fire: The Black Arts and the Reshaping of Black Consciousness (443-87) | Sylvia Plath: all | MMDCTTV: Marc (226)

Screening: Voices and Visions: Sylvia Plath | Case Study: Poetry in the Sixties | Mad Men Season 5: "Signal 30" [MMEL: Shapiro] | SDCW: "A Long March to Freedom" | Power Points: Meeting 10; Poetry | MTVP: Harris-Aber [Breakfast at Tiffany's]

7/29/15 | Meeting 11

PSR Chronology: 1970 and Beyond | Reading: PSR—Part Eight: With Our Arms Upraised: The Women's Movement and the Sexual Revolution (491-542) | Frank O'Hara: 1-247 | MMDCTTV: Lavery (131) | Case Study: Television | Mad Men Season 6: "The Qualitiy of Mercy" [MMEL: Whitaker] | SDCW: "The Times They Are a Changin'" | Power Points: Meeting 11; Season 6; Television | MTVP: Listhartke [Across the Universe]

7/30/15 | Meeting 12

Reading: PSR—Part Nine: In Defense of the Earth: The Environmental Movement (545) | Frank O'Hara: 248-515  | Case Study: Television (cont.) | Guest Speaker: Dr. Jane Marcellus, co-author of Mad Men and Working Women: Feminist Perspectives on Historical Power, Resistance, and Otherness | Mad Men Season 6: "In Care Of"  [MMEL: Yeager] | SDCW: "Television Comes of Age" | Power Points: Meeting 12 | MTVP: Bush [Take the Money and Run]

Week Five

8/4/15 | Meeting 13

Reading: PSR—Part Ten: Ten Elegies for the Sixties (589-605) | Case Study: Postmodernism | "In Care Of"  [MMEL: Yeager] | Mad Men Season 7: "Waterloo" |  Power Points: Meeting 13; Season 7 | First and Last Appearances of Mad Men Characters | MTVP: Lortie [The Jetsons]

8/5/15 | Meeting 14

Reading: TBA | Case Study: Postmodernism (cont.) | Mad Men Season 7: "Person to Person" | Power Points: Meeting 14 | Sixties People | Havrilesky/Metcalf Cartoons