The Making of a Youth Culture

| April 2, 2014

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There will be no Discussion Board Question or Peer Responses this week. And as you can see, I made the Reading Guide Questions quite straight forward (short answer) and limited to Chapter 7. I did this because in lieu of other work, your assignment for this week is your Midterm essay. It must be 3 pages minimum and 5 pages maximum, double spaced, in font 12 Times New Roman. You need to cite your sources using any simple system acceptable (ex: Brown, 23 = page 23 of the Brown article, or speech, or person interviewed in the Morrison and Morrison chapter, or book listed in your bibliography, etc). Due Sunday by 11:45pm.
Please use the Morrison and Morrison readings in a special way for this assignment; quote freely from them and any other sources you need to elaborate your thoughts in this essay.
Midterm Topic:
The essay is to focus on Chapter 8 of Isserman and Kazin “The Making of a Youth Culture”. I’d like the essay to be a critique (both positive and negative) of the 1960s youth culture. It can be approached in any form you like, but please address the following kinds of questions as you proceed –
What was the general sentiment of the youth culture of the 1960s? What was its most sincere and insightful central idea (if any?). What do you make of Ginsberg’s "Howl", the "theme song" of the new culture? Does it seem wise, intelligent, thoughtful, or simply an adolescent complaint?
In reading through Chapter 8 of our text, does it seem to you that the youth culture had any kind of program in mind? There was obviously a lot of criticism of the culture they inherited, but what did they want to put in place? Did they have any kind of truly "philosophical" understanding of the freedom they sought? Is freedom simply freedom "from" restraint and authority, or is real freedom freedom "for" some greater purpose? What human good was "free sex" directed toward? How would its accomplishments contribute to the greater good of humanity? Did drugs help the 60s generation to greater self-awareness and human fulfillment?
What do you think of the disdain for all institutional authority? Can any society, even the most "free" one imaginable, sustain itself without a certain degree of institutional authority? And what of the philosophical folly of such an idea itself? Did not the youth of the 60s simply acclaim their own new authorities (rockers, writers, poets alla Ginsberg) and at that very moment also establish their own new institutions as well? Is any human/social endeavor really as "free" as the 60s generation thought it was or wished to be?
What was missing from this culture? What is missing in "Howl"? Did the philosophers of this movement have a complete philosophy of life, one to carry them through into the future and one upon which a truly human society could be sustained? What was needed? Where did this culture fail? In what way was it foolish?
In the end, what were the accomplishments (positive and negative) of this culture? And how does it continue to influence us today (for good or for ill)?
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