Skip to main content
Article thumbnail
Location of Repository

The social and (counter)cultural 1960s in the USA, transatlantically

By GA McKay

Abstract

In this chapter I want to look at the counterculture of the 1960s, primarily at the American phenomenon, with specific reference to political, social and cultural questions. I am conscious that these are not so easily distinguished—that, in fact, for many involved in the movement, it was a project precisely to blur or merge these categories. I hope to illustrate and interrogate some of those connections and tensions. More widely, of course, the 1960s were a time of contestation, activism, experimentation, energy, and I set the context for this. A good deal has been written about that mythicised and hyperbolic decade (if decade is was it was) and I—with my own attitudinal subcultural baggage of having been a 1970s punk—am wary of myself contributing to its pervasive nostalgising. George Lipsitz has written that ‘the enduring hold of the 1960s on the imagination of the present has been pernicious’, while Andy Bennett, following Lawrence Grossberg, writes of ‘how 1960s nostalgia airbrushes out of youth cultural history the strident political statements of punk rockers and rap artists’ (both quoted in Bennett 2004, 51). At the same time, though, a danger of not adequately historicising the period is that we end up being careless with our own radical cultural history—post-1960s, for instance—history which, as I have pointed out elsewhere, ‘is not even always that old’. While Peter Stansill and David Zane Mairowitz may be correct in their description of events ‘between 1965 and 1970 [are] clearly not a “Movement”, although full of interior motion’, it is not the case that ‘[a]ll that remains is the ephemera’ (1971, 13). Much of my own work over the years has been concerned with the social possibilities and political limitations of what might be perceived of as radical culture—in music, ways of living, youth and other social movements, protest campaigns, for instance. Such phenomena are always present, usually as more than simply utopian traces, residual strands or apparently ephemeral artefacts. What Michael Heale has called ‘the decade’s schizoid reputation’ seems markedly persistent (Heale 2001, 8)

Topics: HT, M1, E151, mem_text_and_place, other
Publisher: Liverpool University Press
OAI identifier: oai:usir.salford.ac.uk:2288

Suggested articles

Citations

  1. (2004). 1, 2, 3 What are we fighting 4?” Music, meaning and “The Star Spangled Banner”’.
  2. (1966). A Prophetic Minority:
  3. (1981). A Trumpet to Arms: Alternative Media in America.
  4. (1993). Adult Comics: An Introduction.
  5. (2004). Biff! Bang! Pow! The transatlantic pop aesthetic,
  6. (1998). Black and Green: The Fight for Civil Rights in Northern Ireland and Black America.
  7. (1997). Black Movement s in America.
  8. (2005). Circular Breathing: The Cultural Politics of Jazz in Britain. Durham NC:
  9. (1990). Eco-Warriors: Understanding the Radical Environmental Movement. doi
  10. (1998). Encyclopedia of American Activism:
  11. (2004). Everybody’s happy, everybody’s free”: representation and nostalgia in the Woodstock film’.
  12. (1970). Festival! The Book of American Music Celebrations.
  13. (1976). From “The gates of Eden” to “Day of the locust”: an analysis of the dissident youth movement of the 1960s and its heirs of the early 1970s—the post-movement groups’.
  14. (2000). Glastonbury: A Very English Fair.
  15. (1977). Hitler’s Children: The Story of the Baader-Meinhof Gang.
  16. (1992). May Day” 1971: civil disobedience and the Vietnam antiwar movement’.
  17. (2001). Mercy, Mercy Me: African-American Culture and the American Sixties.
  18. (1988). Naked aggression: American comic books and the Vietnam War’.
  19. (1970). Revolt into Style: The Pop Arts in Britain.
  20. (1997). Subject to Change: Guerrilla Television Revisited.
  21. (1978). The Angry Brigade. Bratach Dubh Documents,
  22. (1989). The British Counter-Culture, 1966-73: A Study of the Underground Press.
  23. (2004). The Civil Rights Movement. Edinburgh:
  24. (1992). The counterculture and the antiwar movement’.
  25. (1995). The Movement and the Sixties: Protest in America from Greensboro to Wounded Knee.
  26. (1989). The Remasculinization of America: Gender and the Vietnam War.
  27. (1998). The Sixties: Cultural Revolution in Britain,
  28. (1986). Too Much: Art and Society
  29. (1973). Turn it Up! (I Can’t Hear the Words).
  30. (1988). Underground: The London Alternative Press 1966-74.
  31. (1988). Waiting for the Man: The Story of Drugs and Popular Music. doi
  32. (1968). We Are the People Our Parents Warned us Against.
  33. (1990). When the Music’s Over: The Story of Political

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.