Cold War Narratives reveals the power that representations, understood as both cultural production and public discourse, have held in shaping the imaginaries of early Cold War America. By engaging conflicting accounts of the 1950s as either affirmations of a prosperous and confident nation (in TV shows, popular sociology, and advertising) or as critiques of a society in the throes of fear, rebelliousness, and inequality (in film, literature, and media), this study sheds new light on the ambivalent imaginaries of the American 1950s.
Pitting visions of the Red Scare and of nuclear proliferation against narratives of an upbeat nation, eager to suburbanize and to adopt the new ethics of televised consensus,
Cold War Narratives illustrates how America’s leading metaphors of conformity shaped problematic gender roles, domesticity and consumption in the 1950s. It also exposes how dissenting voices to the Cold War consensus converged around the affirmation of specific identitarian discourses, especially highlighting the agency of youth and of the rising civil rights movement, and the way in which these two entered into unprecedented dialog through new discursive formations such as beat culture and rock ‘n’ roll.