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Bucknell to Present ‘The ’60s at 50’ Symposium

Sociologist, Author Todd Gitlin to Kick Off Public Discussions Oct. 18

The year 1968 has become symbolic for the tumultuous period of conflict and change that marked American society during the 1960s. A half century later, Bucknell University will host “The ’60s at 50: Reflections on America a Half-Century Later,” a symposium dedicated to a reconsideration of the political, social and cultural legacy of the American 1960s.

The symposium will consist of a series of free, public discussions between nationally-renowned experts on the legacy and meaning of the 1960s and Bucknell faculty members. There is also a film series of 1960s-related films at the Campus Theatre. Screenings will be preceded by introductory remarks from several Bucknell faculty.

“We’re trying to get at the debate over the broad impact of the 1960s,” said Bucknell sociology professor Alexander Riley, one of the organizers of the symposium. “This is why we’ve worked hard to find a balance of scholars, some with generally positive views of that era, and others who are more critical of the legacy of the period.”

Todd Gitlin, an American sociologist, political writer, novelist and cultural commentator will kick off the discussions on Thursday, Oct. 18, at 7 p.m. in Bucknell Hall. A professor of journalism and sociology and chair of the Ph.D. program in communications at Columbia University, Gitlin is the author of 16 books, including The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage. He has written about the mass media, politics and intellectual life and the arts for both popular and scholarly publications. His forthcoming book, The Opposition, is a novel set in the 1960s. An excerpt appeared in the January/February 2018 issue of The Smithsonian.

“One of the things we’re trying to do with the series is contribute to the idea of a university as a place where topics that are intensely and emotionally contested can be discussed and debated with rigor but also with civility and intellectual and moral responsibility,” Riley said. “We want to affirm Bucknell as an institution where this kind of thoughtful, serious, difficult but hugely rewarding dialogue takes place.”

Additional discussions include the following experts:

November 8: Mark Bauerlein, English professor, Emory University; author of The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future (Or, Don’t Trust Anyone Under 30)

November 27: Mark Moyar, director of the Office of Civilian-Military Cooperation, USAID; author of Triumph Forsaken: The Vietnam War 1954-1965

January 31: Charles Kesler, professor of government, Claremont McKenna College; author of I Am the Change: Barack Obama and the Crisis of Liberalism

February 14: June Carbone, Robina Chair in Law, Science and Technology, University of Minnesota Law School; author of Red Families v. Blue Families: Legal Polarization and the Creation of Culture

March 28: Glenn Loury, Merton P. Stoltz Professor of the Social Sciences and professor of economics, Brown University; author of The Anatomy of Racial Inequality

All events will begin at 7 p.m. in Bucknell Hall.

The film series began on Sept. 26 with a showing of the 1967 classic The Graduate. Additional films include the following:

October 24: 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

November 28: We Were Soldiers (2002)

February 2: Easy Rider (1969)

March 20: Gimme Shelter (1970)

Additional information on the screenings can be found at the Campus Theatre’s website.


CONTACTS: Alexander Riley, 570-577-1118,; Mike Ferlazzo, 570-577-3212, 570-238-6266 (c),

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