By: Harper Lee
Source: Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1960. 40th Anniversary Edition, New York: HarperCollins, 1999, 169–177.
About the Author: Nelle Harper Lee (1926–) was born and raised in Monroeville, Alabama. As a child, she became fond of writing. However, To Kill a Mockingbird is her only published book, earning her the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1961. The daughter of a lawyer, Lee studied law at the University of Alabama and attended Oxford University in England.
To Kill a Mockingbird was published in 1960, not long after the landmark 1954 Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education and during a time of increasing civil rights unrest. The Brown decision created a law to integrate schools. This was particularly controversial in the South. It was also a time of great social change in the United States, and a novel about the racial injustices of 1930s Alabama carried a powerful message to its readers.
To Kill a Mockingbird tells two tales, both set in Maycomb, Alabama. Scout Finch, the narrator, reflects on three years of her childhood in Maycomb. The daughter of a lawyer, Scout, her brother Jem, and friend...
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"Heroine at Home"
By: Gerald Fitzgerald
Date: February 4, 1961
Source: Fitzgerald, Gerald. "Heroine at Home." Opera News, February 4, 1961, 14–15.
About the Author: Gerald Fitzgerald was an associate editor for Opera News when he interviewed Leontyne Price in 1961. Opera News is a publication issued by the Metropolitan Opera Guild. The magazine appears weekly during the opera season and includes information about programs at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, as well as articles about opera.
Opera in the 1960s was dominated by white performers. Although a few African American singers came before her at the Metropolitan Opera, Leontyne Price, born in 1927, was the first African American female to become an operatic star there. When Price made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera in 1961, it was still located between Broadway and Seventh Avenue, and Thirty-ninth and Fortieth Streets. Her counterparts at the Met were Zinka Milanov, Maria Callas, Beverly Sills, Eileen Farrell, and Joan Sutherland, all great singers in their own right.
Throughout the twentieth century, opera houses staged mainly the traditional Italian and German operas. In the earlier part of the century, opera, a drama that...
(The entire section is 1978 words.)
The American Dream
By: Edward Albee
Source: Albee, Edward. The American Dream and The Zoo
Story: Two Plays by Edward Albee. New York: Signet, 1963, 57–61.
About the Author: By the time Edward Albee (1928–) established himself as a playwright in the 1960s, he had been writing for several years. The Zoo Story, published in 1959, was his first successful one-act play and was one of many that addressed disillusionment and family life. Albee's awards include the 1967 Pulitzer Prize for A Delicate Balance and a 1996 Kennedy Center Honor. He is best known for the play Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
The American Dream, a one-act play, premiered January 24, 1961, at York Playhouse in New York City. Five characters—Mommy, Daddy, Grandma, Mrs. Barker, and "Young Man"—convey the satiric comedy of Albee's version of the American Dream. The set is simple, with only a few pieces of furniture and frames on the walls with no pictures in them. Mommy and Daddy, a middle-aged couple, appear in the opening moments of the play, waiting for someone to visit. Mommy chatters about a hat she bought and Daddy pretends to listen. The conversation is absurd and shallow. Mommy,...
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By: Joseph Heller
Source: Heller, Joseph. Catch-22. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996, 186–188, 190–192.
About the Author: Joseph Heller (1923–1999) was born in Brooklyn, New York. In the U.S. Army Air Force in World War II (1939–45), he served as a bombardier on B-25s and flew sixty missions in North Africa and Italy. In 1948 he earned a bachelor's degree from New York University and in 1949 a master's from Columbia University. He began publishing while he was a student. Heller is the author of novels, short stories, plays and screenplays.
Novels about World War II increased in popularity in the decade of the 1960s. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller is frequently grouped with Norman Mailer's The Naked and the Dead and James Jones' From Here to Eternity as important World War II novels. The latter two books, however, differ in tone and purpose from Heller's story. Mailer and Jones wrote realistic novels similar to Ernest Hemingway's war novels. Heller's novel, though set in World War II, contains elements of both classical and modern writers, including absurdists who captured what they viewed as a kind of insanity of modern life. His writing reveals the restlessness of American...
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"All My Pretty Ones"
By: Anne Sexton
Source: Sexton, Anne. All My Pretty Ones. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1962, 4–5.
About the Author: Anne Sexton (1928–1974) began writing poetry in 1957 as part of therapy for psychological disorders. She studied with numerous well-known poets in workshops, including W.D. Snodgrass and Robert Lowell. She then taught poetry at Harvard, Radcliff, Oberlin College, and Boston University. After several failed attempts, she committed suicide in 1974.
Poetry changed in style and subject in the 1950s and 1960s. The academically trained poets of the era challenged their mentors in order to find their own voices. Anne Sexton, though not university trained, became a major voice in the generation of poets who began publishing during this time. She lived in the Boston area, a city rich with poetry and opportunities for poets. She participated first in an Adult Education seminar led by John Holmes. From this seminar evolved a workshop group that would be important for Sexton's growth as a poet. The group included Maxine Kumin, George Starbuck, Sam Albert, and Holmes.
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The Civil Rights Movement in Art
"An Appeal to You from … to March on Washington"
By: March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom
Source: "An Appeal to You from … to March on Washington." March on Washington, ARVF, Special Collections, Michigan State University, 1963.
About the Movement: The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom was organized by several leading civil rights advocates, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Conceived by A. Phillip Randolph, the march took place August 28,1963.
"Blowin' in the Wind"
By: Bob Dylan
Source: Dylan, Bob. "Blowin' in the Wind." The Peter Paul and Mary Song Book. New York: Pepamar Music Corp., n.d., 44–45.
About the Author: Bob Dylan (1942–) was born Robert Allen Zimmerman in Duluth, Minnesota. Dylan was interested in music from an early age, and in 1960 moved to New York City to perform folk music. His first album appeared in 1962. Within a year he was internationally famous for his powerful, popular, and politically charged folk music. Dylan songs such as "Blowin' in the Wind" and "The Times They Are A-Changin'"...
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By: Alfred Hitchcock.
Source: "The Birds." Alfred Hitchock, director. 1963. The Kobal Collection, Image no. BIRD005AB. Available online at (accessed April 6, 2003).
About the Artist: Alfred Hitchcock (1899–1980) was born and raised in England. By the time he moved to the United States in 1939 and became a citizen, he had already directed successful psychological thrillers. Major films include Rear Window (1954), Psycho (1960), Rebecca (1940), and Frenzy (1972). He always appeared in his own films in a nonspeaking cameo role. In addition to directing films, Hitchcock hosted two television series, Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1959–1962) and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (1963–1965).
Alfred Hitchcock was a well-known filmmaker when he directed The Birds in 1963, principally because of Psycho (1960), which had thrilled and terrified American moviegoers. Hitchcock films were marked by the macabre and the unusual cinematic techniques, in contrast to the musicals, westerns, and romances that were still popular in the 1960s. Despite his popular success, few critics really appreciated Hitchcock's work, and he was overlooked by the Academy of Motion Pictures...
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Where the Wild Things Are
By: Maurice Sendak
Source: Sendak, Maurice. Where the Wild Things Are. New York: HarperCollins, 1984.
About the Artist: Maurice Sendak (1928–) is the youngest of three children born to Jewish immigrants in Brooklyn, New York. As a child, he drew scenes of his immigrant neighborhood. Formal art training took place at the Art Students League in New York. Sendak has illustrated other authors' works but prefers writing and illustrating his own material. Sendak was the first American to win the Hans Christian Anderson Award, for In the Night Kitchen (1970).
Although nineteenth century children's books had been vivid and sometimes frightening, twentieth century parents and children were accustomed to milder topics than monsters in the bedroom. Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are, a 1964 Caldecott Award winner, opened the doors for more honesty in children's literature.Max, the main character, is a mischievous child who disobeys his mother. In the opening pages, the monster's picture on the wall reveals that Max has ventured to the land of the wild things before. Because of his behavior, his mother calls Max a Wild Thing and sends him to bed without supper. Max...
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"A Hard Day's Night"
By: John Lennon and Paul McCartney
Source: Lennon, John, and Paul McCartney. "A Hard Day's Night." In Things We Said Today: The Complete Lyrics and a Concordance to The Beatles' Songs, 1962–1970. Edited by Colin Campbell and Allan Murphy. Ann Arbor, Mich.: Pierian Press, 1980. 19.
About the Artist: John Lennon (1940–1980) and Paul McCartney (1942–) composed much of the music for the British rock group The Beatles, which also included George Harrison and Ringo Starr. The Beatles' first American tour began February 7, 1964, at the Coliseum in Washington, D.C. During their time together, The Beatles had twenty number one singles in the United States. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1988.
Throughout the 1950s, American performers such as Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, and Jerry Lee Lewis had been the stars of rock and roll and rhythm and blues. Beginning in the early 1960s, this changed with the British Invasion, which hit the shores of the United States with the tour by The Beatles and their appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show in February 1964. British bands and singers, including Cream, Herman's Hermits, The Dave Clark Five, Chad and...
(The entire section is 1049 words.)
By: Roy Lichtenstein
Source: Lichtenstein, Roy. Crying Girl. 1964. Roy Lichtenstein Foundation. Available online at http://www.lichtensteinfoundation.org/3352.htm (accessed January 7, 2003).
About the Artist: Roy Lichtenstein (1923–1997), a painter, sculptor, and printmaker, was born in New York City. His first art education took place at the Arts Student League in New York. He later earned a bachelor's degree and master of fine arts from Ohio State University. During the 1950s, the theme of much of his work was American history and the conquest of the Wild West. In the 1960s, he began creating pop art based on comics.
In the 1950s and 1960s, pop art became an international movement in painting, sculpture, and printmaking, though the term itself originated in London. Pop art was meant to appeal to a mass audience and be mass produced. Artists who were part of this movement include Lawrence Alloway, Richard Hamilton, David Hockney, Jim Dine, and Andy Warhol. The movement emerged in the United States in the 1960s, though artists had started to experiment during the decade before. When asked to define pop art, Roy Lichtenstein said, "I don't...
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By: LeRoi Jones
Source: Jones, LeRoi. Dutchman and The Slave. New York: William Morrow, 1964, 3–7.
About the Author: LeRoi Jones (1934–), who changed his name to Amiri Baraka in 1968, writes about African Americans living in a white world. Early in his career, he wrote plays and essays. Since the 1980s, he has concentrated on writing poetry and nonfiction. As an African American nationalist in the 1960s, Baraka was an advocate for African American arts and aesthetics. His work is confrontational and demands reactions from his audiences.
Following a trip to Cuba in 1960, LeRoi Jones realized the political power of the arts. Through drama, he provided a message to the audience about his vision of life in the United States for the African American man. In 1964, he had five plays produced, including Dutchman. He envisioned a new African American arts movement, one that would depict a United States that few whites saw but in which many African Americans lived.
Dutchman opened in January 1964 at Village South Theatre in New York City. Like most of Jones' plays, this one ran off-Broadway. It reopened at the Cherry Lane Theatre in March 1964 and at that time was...
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By: Robert Rauschenberg
Source: Rauschenberg, Robert. Creek. 1964. Detroit Institute of Arts. Available online athttp://www.dia.org/collections/twenty/69.48.html (accessed February 20, 2003).
About the Artist: Robert Rauschenberg (1925–) is considered one of the most influential artists of the 1960s. He is noted for departing from abstract expressionism and for questioning relationships between art and life. He studied art at the Kansas City Art Institute, at Academie Julian in Paris, and at Black Mountain College near Asheville, North Carolina. Rauschenberg had a retrospective exhibition in 1963 at the Jewish Museum in New York City.
Robert Rauschenberg's combined understanding of art and music helped him form his unique and innovative techniques. He developed his artistic style during the 1950s and was one of the leaders in the visual arts during...
(The entire section is 925 words.)
"Driving through Minnesota during the Hanoi Bombings"; "At a March against the Vietnam War"
By: Robert Bly
Source: Bly, Robert. The Light Around the Body. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, 34, 37.
About the Author: Robert Bly (1926–) was born in Madison, Minnesota. From 1944 to 1946, he served in the U.S. Navy. Following World War II, he attended St. Olaf College and Harvard University, where he earned his bachelor's degree. He also earned a master's degree from the Iowa Writers Workshop. Bly, who cofounded American Writers Against Vietnam, wrote and spoke against the war. He published a literary magazine, several volumes of poetry, and the book Iron John: A Book About Men, which was an international best-seller.
Warfare changed during the twentieth century, and so did poetry about the experience. World War I poetry often provided a physical description from the soldier-poets in the trenches who had not yet been disillusioned. During World War II, soldiers and poets were spread across many fronts, and their poetry took on a character of resignation and endurance for war. Vietnam changed the meaning of war and the reasons for war. More civilians wrote poetry to...
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By: Isamu Noguchi
Source: Noguchi, Isamu. Red Cube, 1968, red painted steel. Marine Midland Bank, 140 Broadway, New York City. Available online at: (accessed February 26, 2003).
About the Artist: Isamu Noguchi (1904–1988) was born in Los Angeles but grew up in Japan and Indiana. In 1927, he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. He studied in Paris, where he was a studio assistant for Constantin Brancusis. Noguchi began creating public sculpture in the 1930s. Both Eastern and Western traditions influence Noguchi's sculpture and architectural work.
Isamu Noguchi created public sculpture in the form of plazas, gardens, furniture, and interiors. He ignored the usual artistic boundaries, blending the art with something that would be useful to the public. His philosophies predate Robert Rauschenberg's juxtapositions of art and life. He had developed a love for hand tools and natural materials as a child growing up in Japan. These early passions translated into his later development of simple spaces and sculptures that provided places of respite for the public.Influences on Noguchi include Alexander Calder and David Smith. Contemporaries include Stuart Davis and Willem de Kooning. These men...
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House Made of Dawn
By: N. Scott Momaday
Source: Momaday, N. Scott. House Made of Dawn. New York: Harper & Row, 1968, 5–9.
About the Author: N. Scott Momaday (1934–) was born in Lawton, Oklahoma. He is a Kiowa Indian but grew up with the Navaho and Jemez Pueblo traditions as well. He studied at the University of New Mexico and later earned a master's degree and a Ph.D. from Stanford University. Momaday's fiction and poetry are rich in Native American oral traditions.
N. Scott Momaday's 1969 Pulitzer Prize for House Made of Dawn was a landmark for Native American literature and writers. The Pulitzer Prize jury explained their choice as follows: "In the words of one of the members of the jury, 'eloquence and intensity of feeling, its freshness of vision and subject, its immediacy of theme,' and because an award to its author might be considered as recognition of the arrival on the American literary scene of a matured, sophisticated literary artist from the original Americans" (quoted in Matthew Schubnell, N. Scott Momaday: The Cultural and Literary Background [Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1985], 93). The publisher hardly remembered this first book of Momaday's. Critics misunderstood the title...
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By: Kurt Vonnegut
Source: Vonnegut, Kurt. Slaughterhouse-Five or The Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death. New York: Delacorte Press, 1969; reprinted New York: Delta, 1999, 29–35.
About the Author: Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (1922–) was born in Indianapolis, Indiana. His major works include Mother Night (1962), Cat's Cradle (1963) and Bluebeard (1988). Both a novelist and short story writer, Vonnegut became a cult writer during the 1960s. He is also a social critic who analyzes how science and technology affect our lives.
Slaughterhouse-Five or The Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death relates the story of Billy Pilgrim, a chaplain's assistant in World War II (1939–45) who is present at the bombing of Dresden, Germany. An estimated 135,000 civilians were killed in this bombing, where Vonnegut was also a soldier. Both Pilgrim and Vonnegut were devastated by this event. The book is framed with Vonnegut's personal recollections about being a prisoner of war in Dresden. The tragedy, the governmental lies, and the pain that survived within are accounted for in both his personal sections and in the story itself. Vonnegut tells Billy Pilgrim's story in episodes, past,...
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"Arthur Mitchell and the Dance Theater of Harlem"
By: Olga Maynard
Date: March 1970
Source: Maynard, Olga. "Arthur Mitchell and the Dance Theater of Harlem." Dance Magazine, March 1970, 52–64.
Harlem had been a place of artistic innovation and cultural experimentation in the 1920s. Artists, poets, and writers had all called Harlem home and had drawn their inspiration from its surroundings. By the time Arthur Mitchell was born in 1934, the Harlem Renaissance was over. He recalls that he was rebellious and restless and that he came under that influence of a street gang. Education and dance saved him, however. In the 1930s and 1940s, it was not common to see African Americans in dance other than jazz or tap, so Mitchell had no role models in ballet. His dance education began with a scholarship to the High School for Performing Arts in New York and continued at the School of American Ballet with Lincoln Kirstein and George Balanchine. He broke new ground when he became the first African American male to join the New York City Ballet in 1955. He would become a pioneer and the role model for future generations. He remained in the troupe for fifteen years and became a principal dancer. Janet Collins had been the first African American prima ballerina, dancing at the Metropolitan Opera...
(The entire section is 4487 words.)