Understanding America: 1936 – 2019 (NYC)

Saturday, March 09, 2019 10:00 am - 1:15 pm

Understanding America, 1936-2019
A unique glimpse into the soul of our country 
 
In just over eighty years, American History reflects a remarkable transformation in our country of attitudes and aspirations. Rather than simply review facts and figures, two of One Day University's most acclaimed professors will be teaming up to offer a unique first-time-ever presentation focusing on iconic photographs and political ads. 

Photography has transformed the ways in which we see the world, it captures events and also transforms them; depicting reality but also telling a story. Political ads provide the clearest window into the soul of America's politics, culture, and history.  From the Depression, both world wars, and civil rights struggles — through the Presidencies of Kennedy, Nixon, Reagan, Obama and Trump, this remarkable morning will speak to our hopes and aspirations, as well as our anxieties and fears.

Louis Masur is a Distinguished Professor of American Studies and History at Rutgers University. He received outstanding teaching awards from Rutgers, Trinity College, and the City College of New York, and won the Clive Prize for Excellence in Teaching from Harvard University. Leonard Steinhorn is a professor of communication and affiliate professor of history at American University. He currently serves as a political analyst for CBS News in Washington, D.C

schedule

11:45 am - 1:15 pm
Political Ads that Changed America

Leonard Steinhorn / American University

In this class we will explore what may be the clearest window into the soul of America's politics, culture, and history: those 30 and 60 second political ads that flood our screens every election season. These ads speak to our hopes and aspirations, but also our anxieties and fears. They confirm our support for a candidate — and our opposition to their opponent. They also touch on almost every cultural thread woven into the American fabric: race, identity, the American Dream, celebrity, media, so much more. And their secret sauce derives from the tools, tricks and productions techniques that make them so emotionally, psychologically and cognitively powerful. Understand these ads and you'll understand America.

Anchoring this class will be classic ads from Kennedy, Nixon, Reagan, and Obama. But since the history of political advertising is deep and long, and since every ad has a both pedigree and legacy, we'll travel back to the earliest televised campaign ads and dissect both contemporary and past ads for how they aim to influence us. Prepare to like Ike, sing along with Sinatra, hear LBJ tell us "we must either love each other, or we must die," watch the handiwork of Roger Ailes, wake up with Morning In America, identify with The Man From Hope, and see how candidate Barack Obama inspired the viral videos that now dominate our media ecosystem.

Leonard Steinhorn / American University

Leonard Steinhorn is a professor of communication and affiliate professor of history at American University. He currently serves as a political analyst for CBS News in Washington, D.C. He is the author of “The Greater Generation: In Defense of the Baby Boom Legacy,” and co-author of “By the Color of Our Skin: The Illusion of Integration and the Reality of Race,” books that have generated widespread discussion and debate. Professor Steinhorn’s writings have been featured in several publications, including The Washington Post, Salon, Politico, and Huffington Post. He has twice been named Faculty Member of the Year at AU.

10:00 am - 11:30 am
Understanding America Through Four Remarkable Photographs

Louis Masur / Rutgers University

From its introduction in 1839, photography has transformed the ways in which we see the world. Photographs capture events and also transform them; they depict reality but also tell a story. Scores of photographs have changed America, and we will discuss four of them in detail. Some won't come as a surprise, while others may open eyes anew. Examining the histories of these images, and learning how to read them, provides a deeper understanding of how photographs have shaped, and continue to shape, American society and culture.

  • Dorothea Lange, Migrant Mother (1936). The most iconic photograph of the depression, "Migrant Mother" changed how people thought about poverty.
  • Joe Rosenthal, Flag Raising on Mt. Suribichi (1945). People thought it was posed, but it wasn't. It helped the United States to win World War II and define the nation.
  • Nick Ut, Napalm Girl (1972). Images from Vietnam fueled opposition to the war, and the story of the girl in the picture traveled around the world.
  • Stanley Forman, The Soiling of Old Glory (1976). This Pulitzer-prize winning photograph brought the civil rights struggle to the North and transformed how Americans thought of the bicentennial.
Louis Masur / Rutgers University

Louis Masur is a Distinguished Professor of American Studies and History at Rutgers University. He received outstanding teaching awards from Rutgers, Trinity College, and the City College of New York, and won the Clive Prize for Excellence in Teaching from Harvard University. He is the author of many books including “Lincoln’s Last Speech,” which was inspired by a talk he presented at One Day University. His essays and articles have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, and Slate. He is an elected member of the American Antiquarian Society and serves on the Historians’ Council of the Gettysburg Foundation.