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OPTION #1 – Juvenile Delinquency and the Red Scare
Due date: Before 11 pm (Central Time) on Friday of Week 6
Length: 4-5 pages
Sources: At least 3 references to secondary sources (may be drawn
from course readings or from independent research, but only scholarly sources will count toward your total)
Write a 4-5 page essay in which you analyze a cultural text (a film, memoir, novel, set of images, etc.) or social practice associated with the United States’ participation in the Vietnam War. You may take ONE of the following approaches:
• Perform an ideological analysis of a film, photograph, television commercial, documentary, journalistic account, recording, or other cultural representation of the fear of juvenile delinquency, OTHER THAN Rebel Without a Cause. What does the text suggest about America in the 1950s? How does the text construct a particular form of collective memory about the fear of the spread of communism? That is, how does it work to make a certain view of the deviant behavior seem “unnatural” or “incorrect”? What features of the Cold War are foregrounded, which ones are rendered invisible, and what is the effect of these choices? Your response should use class readings or other reliable secondary sources to develop/support the argument.
• Compare/contrast the two major texts examined in class – Rebel Without a Cause and the Ten Cent Plague. Do they produce similar views of the American youth, and, if so, how and why? Do they produce different views of the American youth, and, if so, how and why? Your response should use class readings or other reliable secondary sources to develop/support the argument.
• Analyze how the Cold War and the feeling of nationalism continues to resonate in contemporary American culture and politics (for example, the upcoming Presidential elections). Choose one or, at most, two examples of contemporary culture that illustrate the on-going renegotiation of the meaning of the Cold War; explain how and why attitudes shifted toward the control of teenagers in the 1950s. Your response should use class readings or other reliable secondary sources to develop/support the argument.
• Consider a text or practice that constitutes a form of cultural politics. How does the text or practice illustrate the tensions inherent in this style of resistance? That is, how successful is the text or practice as an act of resistance to established forms of power in juveniles in the 1950s? What made this change happen in a single generation? Your response should use class readings or other reliable secondary sources to develop/support the argument.
Whatever approach students choose, all papers must contain (or demonstrate) the following:
• A clear argument (thesis), backed up with substantial textual evidence (e.g., quotes and descriptions) and thoughtful reasoning
• Minimal plot summary of texts (I want argument and analysis, not the mere description).
• References to at least three different course texts or outside source materials. Outside sources must be from a reliable scholarly journal or book on the subject of Vietnam. Use internet sources sparingly, and, if you use them, double check them against alternate sites or sources for accuracy. Internet sources will not count toward your total of three references.
• A strong conclusion that makes clear the significance of your analysis (i.e., what it helps the reader understand about the history or legacy of Vietnam)