1963: A Watershed Year?
HOTCUS Winter Symposium, February 24, 2023
The Rothermere American Institute, Oxford
The 2023 HOTCUS Winter Symposium provides a fitting occasion to reflect upon 1963, often described as a watershed year that shaped the direction of the 1960s and beyond. Several social movements gained momentum in 1963, including the civil rights movement, which received significant national coverage in Birmingham, Alabama and at the later March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique was published the same year, and is often interpreted as a key spark in the evolution of Second Wave Feminism. In June 1963, the secularization of public education received a significant push through the Supreme Court decision that banned Bible readings in public schools. Meanwhile, as Americans mourned the deaths of JFK and W.E.B. Du Bois, the Cold War context shifted in response to a ban on American travel and financial transactions in Cuba and the Senate ratification of the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. The United States’s backing of the military coup in South Vietnam in 1963 paved the ground for a conflict that would shape the global 1960s.
In this one-day conference, HOTCUS seeks to bring together historians of the twentieth-century United States to consider the significance and interconnectedness of 1963, with a particular emphasis on issues of race, science, religion, foreign policy, gender, sexuality, the arts and popular culture. The sheer range of important events indicated above ensures a diverse range of historical approaches and directions. However, HOTCUS asks that those interested in contributing to the conference reflect upon the cross currents identified in this CFP, and consider any planned papers as a contribution to a conversation about both the year in question and the wider historical concepts of “watershed” years and anniversaries. HOTCUS are hoping to develop an edited collection or journal special issue with interested presenters, so please do let us know if this is something that interests you when applying to present at the conference.
The keynote lecture will be delivered by Dr Nick Witham, Associate Professor of United States History at University College London’s Institute of the Americas.