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9) The Disillusioned 1970s

Events and Policies

- Richard Nixon (1913-1994, in office 1969-1974, 37th President): based his presidential election campaign on the promise to end the Vietnam War against which there were growing protests

- Gerald Ford (1913-2006, in office 1974-1977, 38th President)

- Jimmy Carter (b. 1924, in office 1977-1981, 39th President)

Economic Crisis

- the prices went up, especially gas and electricity prices, the unemployment rate was rising

- after Nixon’s resignation the power of Congress grew rapidly due to weak presidents

- Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (1973): signed the Helsinki Accords (1975) as an important step for ending of the Cold War which ruined economy so that there were no more resources for defence

Middle East Conflicts

- Arab-Israeli Conflict: the American support for Israel lead to the OPEC fuel embargo against the US (1973-1974)

- Iranian Revolution (1979): the overthrow of Pahlavi’s monarchy and establishment of a republic under Khomeini

- Soviet-Afghan War (1979-1989): the USSR invaded Afghanistan to support the Marxist government against the mujahideen resistance supported by resources from US and other states in the context of the Cold War

- Carter Doctrine (1980): declared by President Carter in his State of the Union Address as a reaction to the USSR invasion of Afghanistan, the US will use force if necessary to defend its national interests in the Persian Gulf


Riots and Violence

- frequent anti-war riots, anti-government moods, and general disillusionment springing from the ongoing war, rising economic crisis, and assassinations of political and moral leaders

- Martin Luther King: assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee in 1968, an escaped convict was charged for the murder

- Robert F. Kennedy: assassinated during his presidential election campaign in Los Angeles, California in 1968 by a young Palestinian who was convicted and sentenced to a life imprisonment

- Kent State University, Ohio: during a war protest on the campus the National Guard shot four students to death

- Jackson State University, Mississippi: during a riot on the campus the State Police shot two students to death

Watergate Scandal (1972-1974)

- in 1972 five men were arrested for breaking into the headquarters of Democrats in Watergate, Washington D.C.

- the two-year investigation was conducted by FBI, Senate Watergate Committee, and House Judiciary Committee

- Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, The Washington Post investigative journalists, helped to reveal the scandal

- in 1974 President Nixon resigned when it was proved that he actively tried to conceal that the burglary was ordered by Republicans as one of a whole series of illegal activities authorized and carried out by Nixon’s staff

Second Wave of Feminism

- in 1920 women won the right to vote, in 1970s feminists fought against patriarchal structures and male leadership

- Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique (1963) became popular among middle class women who, like the author, felt unfulfilled as housewives and sought to achieve something more

- National Organization for Women (founded in 1966): the largest feminist organization in US, tried to introduce laws banning sexual discrimination, worked to make universities and employers more open to accepting women

- Women’s Liberation: a radical feminist movement, organized demonstrations (with banners like ‘Welcome to the Miss America Cattle Auction’), burned implements of female torture (bras, curlers, and housewife magazines)

- Consciousness Raising Groups: women organized informal gatherings and discussion groups in their homes

- Equal Rights Amendment (ERA): first brought to Congress in the 1920s, since then many times, but never passed

- New Conservatism: promoted family, religion, nationalism, rejected female liberation, abortion, homosexuality

- Roe v. Wade (1973): a Texas woman sued the state for not being allowed abortion, won, and made abortion legal

Gay Liberation Movement

- the movement started in 1960s, became organized only in 1970s when first individuals came out, homosexuality was outlawed in many states

- Stonewall Riots (1969): an all-night long demonstration of gays and lesbians after the police raided the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, New York City

- Gay Pride Day (1970): the first anniversary of Stonewall was commemorated by a now annually organized march

- Harvey Milk (1930-1978): a political activist, the first openly gay man elected to a public office in San Francisco



- after the death of Elvis Presley (1977) and the end of the Beatles (1970) rock’n’roll loses its dominant position

- disco: Bee Gees, John Travolta, Jackson Five, Stevie Wonder, Donna Summer

- soft pop: Carpenters, Eagles

- hard rock: Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Kiss

- punk: Ramones, Patti Smith, Blondie

- punk rock: Sex Pistols, the Clash (both British)

- Gil Scott-Heron: a soul and blues singer and political poet (‘Watergate Blues’)

- Bob Marley: a Jamaican reggae singer and songwriter (‘Could You Be Loved’)

- Kenny Rogers: a country singer

- Philip Glass: a minimalist music composer, author of music based on repetitive structures


- experiences a great comeback after the 1960s television era

- disaster: The Poseidon Adventure (1969), Earthquake (1974), The Towering Inferno (1974), Airport 1975 (1974)

- musical: Saturday Night Fever (1977), Grease (1978), Hair (1979)

- Vietnam: Taxi Driver (1976), Coming Home (1978), The Deer Hunter (1978), Apocalypse Now (1979)

- The Godfather (1972), The Exorcist (1973), Jaws (1975), Rocky (1976), Star Wars (1977), Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)


- talk shows on controversial issues

- live broadcast, especially from Vietnam and Senate hearings on the Watergate affair

- miniseries: Roots, Happy Days, Sesame Street


- skyscrapers: Transamerica Pyramid (1972, architect William Pereira) in San Francisco, California; Pennzoil Place (1975, architect Philip Johnson) in Houston, Texas

- arcology, a combination of art and ecology: Paolo Soleri’s Arcosanti project in Arizona (under construction since 1970); Frank Gehry’s residence in Santa Monica, California (1978); I. M. Pei’s Dallas City Hall, Texas (1978)

- earth art: Walter De Maria’s The Lightning Field in New Mexico (1978), Michael Heizer’s City in Nevada (under construction since 1972), Christo’s Running Fence in California (1976, removed by the author)

Pictorial Arts

- illusionism, gives the impression of a three-dimensional object rather than a painting: Richard Haas’s murals

- photorealism, or, hyper-realism, gives the impression of a photography: Richard Estes’s paintings

- installations: Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party (1979)

- pop art: Andy Warhol’s ‘Campbell’s Soup’ (1968)

- realism: Andrew Wyeth’s Helga Paintings (1971-1985)


- novelists: Tony Morrison’s The Bluest Eye (1970), John Updike’s Rabbit Redux (1971), Joyce Carol Oates’s Wonderland (1971), Kurt Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions (1973)

- playwrights: David Mamet’s American Buffalo (1975), Sam Shepard’s Buried Child (1978), Neil Simon

Základní údaje

  • Předmět

    America in the 20th Century.
  • Semestr

    Letní semestr 2008/09.
  • Vyučující

    Martina Knápková, Alena Kolářová.
  • Status

    Volitelný seminář pro III. blok.


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