In The Free World: Art and Thought in the Cold War, Pulitzer Prize–winning scholar and critic Louis Menand tells the story of American culture in the pivotal years from the end of World War II to Vietnam and shows how changing economic, technological, and social forces put their mark on creations of the mind.
How did elitism and an anti-totalitarian skepticism of passion and ideology give way to a new sensibility defined by freewheeling experimentation and loving the Beatles? How was the ideal of freedom applied to causes that ranged from anti-communism and civil rights to radical acts of self-creation via art? Join Menand as he takes us inside John Cage’s residency at North Carolina’s Black Mountain College and the Memphis studio where Sam Phillips and Elvis Presley created a new music for the American teenager. Examine the post war vogue for existentialism, structuralism and post-structuralism, as well as the rise of pop art and the New Hollywood.
May 5: John Cage’s 4’33” (silent piece for piano)
May 12: Elvis Presley’s “Hound Dog”
May 19: Andy Warhol’s Brillo Box
May 26: Arthur Penn’s Bonnie and Clyde
Professor Menand will deliver a 45-minute lecture and then answer questions posed via Zoom’s chat feature. To purchase The Free World: Art and Thought in the Cold War, visit Bookshop.