Hist7359: Cold War Monsters: British and American Public Anxieties and Genre Cinema, 1950-1969
Teacher: Matt Jones
The 1950s and 1960s were decades in which Soviet indoctrination and nuclear eradication became significant public anxieties in Britain and America. These fears, stoked by key events such as the unmasking of the Cambridge spy ring, the execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg and the Cuban missile crisis, soon began to inform the output of these nations’ film industries. It is no coincidence that Dr. No launched the James Bond franchise in 1962 or that The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, which heralded a cycle of science fiction films about atomic monsters, emerged in 1953. However, the films themselves were rarely simplistic reflections of contemporaneous anti-nuclear or anti-Soviet sentiment. Instead, they reveal a complex negotiation of different and often contrasting attitudes towards a range of Cold War concerns. Locating them within their socio-political contexts can expose how cinema expressed, produced and challenged ordinary people's understanding of the political and scientific developments taking place in the world around them. This course encourages students to explore these connections by asking what light science fiction, horror and spy films can shed on this period. In this way, students will learn to use cinema to enrich their understanding of history and vice versa.
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