Cornell I Program
The ‘Long 1968’: Protest, Social Movements, and the Legacies of Unrest 50 Years Later
Cornell University, Ithaca, New York
June 23 – August 3, 2019
Faculty: Alexandra Bush, University of California-Berkeley, and Sarah Stoller, University of California-Berkeley
Factotum: Izzy Monroe, Deep Springs College
The protests that erupted around the world in the ‘long 1968’ were a watershed for activism and radical politics. Protesters questioned the norms, values, identities, and forms of power that structured their societies, and introduced new agendas for change. In this course we will explore the unrest of 1968 in the West and chart its consequences and echoes in the United States, Europe, and beyond. We will trace relationships between the protests of that year and social movements that emerged in their wake in order to raise questions about the future of leftist politics.
We will begin by asking central historical questions about the transformations wrought by 1968. Why and how did protests first take shape in 1968? What was the role of youth in these protests? What connections existed between widespread unrest and other changes underway in Western societies, and indeed globally? How new were the forms of protest that appeared in 1968 and the relationships among protesters and the media? Can the unrest of 1968 be understood as global, local, or national? How has 1968 been remembered?
We will then look closely at the legacies of 1968 in four key areas: the civil rights movement, anti-imperialism, women’s liberation and gay rights, and environmentalism. By charting the trajectory of these socio-political movements from the late 60s through to the contemporary period, we will address both the obstacles faced and apparent successes gained by activists then and now. Finally, we will use our historical perspective to consider the future of social movements, identity politics, and the global political imaginary.