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‘Mad Men’ Goes To College In NU Class

Northwestern professor Michael Allen says "Mad Men" does a good job of showing life in the 1950s and 60s and the origins of social reform movements including civil rights and equal opportunities for women. (Credit: Stephen Anzaldi/Northwestern University)

Northwestern professor Michael Allen says “Mad Men” does a good job of showing life in the 1950s and 60s and the origins of social reform movements including civil rights and equal opportunities for women. (Credit: Stephen Anzaldi/Northwestern University)

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(WBBM) - We learned in the last season of “Mad Men” that Don Draper never finished high school. Now he’s in college.

The award-winning TV series is the focus of a university seminar.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Julie Mann Reports
 

The life and times of Don Draper, the main character on the hit AMC cable television series about a New York City advertising agency in the 1960s, is the focus of a history class at Northwestern University.

The freshman seminar is called “Consumerism and Social Change in Mad Men America, 1960-1965″. It has students watching episodes of the cable drama from the scholarly perspective.

The professor behind the lesson plan is Michael Allen who admits he is a big fan of the show. He says the series does a good job of showing life in the 1950s and 60s and the origins of social reform movements including civil rights and equal opportunities for women.

Here is the course description:

This course situates the critically acclaimed television series Mad Men within its historical context, using the show to explore the relationship between consumerism, corporate culture, and social change in American homes and workplaces in the 1960s. It approaches the series both as a window onto key developments in the early 1960s and as a fictional representation of that era that reveals as much about the present as it does about the past. Throughout, it will consider how changes to the U.S. economy after World War II resulted in social and cultural dynamics depicted in the series, using both Mad Men and contemporary accounts of middle-class corporate culture from the 1950s and 1960s to make connections between postwar prosperity and politics, broadly defined. Specific topics will include civil rights, workplace equality, gender relations, sex and sexuality, and the Cold War. Scheduled to coincide with Mad Men’s fourth season, the course will involve weekly television and film viewing in-class and outside of it. In addition to watching TV and films, we will read various contemporary accounts of urban corporate life and consult a number of recent historical studies that treat consumerism, advertising, and work in the 1950s and 1960s.