JFK (HIH1607)

15 credits

In many different ways, the Presidency of John F. Kennedy marked the birth of the contemporary world. Elected in 1960 after the first American presidential debates ever, and the first shown on television, JFK’s thousand days in office inaugurated the modern television age. Several of JFK’s speeches are widely acknowledged as masterpieces of political rhetoric; others were televised and reported globally amidst international crises, while his assassination in Dallas in November 1963 was the first “rolling news” event in American and world history. JFK’s Presidency not only provides a unique opportunity to examine the origins of the modern media, it also coincided with a dramatic and event-filled moment in the history of the Cold War, from the Bay of Pigs and the escalation of the Vietnam War to the Berlin and Cuban Missile Crises, and also saw the reshaping of American political, social and cultural landscape, in particular the struggle over African-American Civil Rights. Through studying speeches, debates, White House tape transcripts, Presidential directives, television broadcasts, films and other sources, the module will introduce students to American and international history at a key moment of change, and familiarise you with the skills required to understand contemporary history.