New banner.

This summer I’m teaching a course on Cold War culture in America, and this is part of an image I used during a lecture on Truman, liberal anti-communism, and the Marshall Plan.  Here it is in its entirety:

In the 1948, Truman faced a tough re-election.  With the Cold War escalating, Republicans and conservative Democrats used red-baiting as a blunt tool for discrediting the president and his symbolic ties to the late Roosevelt and the New Deal.  At the same time, Senator Robert Taft and other leading isolationists challenged Truman’s commitment to a leading role in world affairs through the Marshall Plan and the United Nations.  In the upper left hand corner you can see the onion domes of Moscow (capped by a red sky) threatening some (western) Europeans proclaiming their love of peace, prosperity, and democracy.  The United Nations sits along the same vertical axis as Moscow, suggesting that collective security (interestingly, not the United States, although Truman certainly can be understood to represent American power) will provide a bulwark against the spread of communism.  The use of global imagery is also interesting (John Fousek’s To Lead the Free World has a great visual essay along these lines), suggesting at once a world made “smaller” by communications and transportation technologies, and that the entire world can and should be the literal sphere of American influence.

The great thing about teaching this course is the sheer wealth of audio and visual material that I can use during class.  This means that I can literally illustrate my lectures, and that we can practice analyzing posters, photographs, songs, and other primary sources as a class.  To my mind, this encourages the critical thinking and analysis skills that are the most important things that students can take away from a history course.

If you want to practice your own critical thinking skills, or just look at/listen to some fun stuff, here are some links to web collections of Cold War materials:

Authentic History Center




3 thoughts on “New banner.

  1. Pingback: No jest. | Ye Olde Royle Blog

  2. Nice entry. Glad you liked the ‘Visual Essay’ on globalist/nationalist iconography in my book. I’m especially glad if it’s been helpful in your teaching.
    Best regards,
    John Fousek

    • Hi, John! Glad you liked the post. The sheer number of materials that are available online for Cold War culture is staggering, but it makes teaching the class a lot of fun. What are you working on now?

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