Dissent in the Heartland: The Sixties at Indiana University

By Mary Ann Wynkoop | Go to book overview

Introduction

This book is about students at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, during the 1960s. They came of age during a decade that stands as a turning point in American history. Many Americans who were young adults in the 1960s realized that their lives were inevitably changed by the war in Vietnam, the civil rights movement, the women’s liberation movement, or the counterculture. Many will disagree about whether these events and movements were successful, and will offer either praise or criticisms based on their own experiences. Few, however, would contest the idea that the Sixties were a decade filled with dramatic and significant events that changed American culture.

Student activists who were part of the movement have written their own accounts of the events of that tumultuous decade. They have expressed pride in the ways in which they feel they changed this country for the better, and some have written of their disappointment in their failure to establish more permanent networks for reform.

For those historians and critics born during or after the 1960s, the significance of the Sixties is much more ambiguous. Viewing the Sixties in the light of the growth of the conservative right, cultural narcissism, and consumer capitalism during the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, they are much more likely to see the period in terms that reflect their own attitudes about the baby-boom generation that has cast such a long shadow over their own cultural, historical, and, given the number of Sixties activists who became educators, intellectual development. The debate is, to a certain extent, generational and lends a special poignancy to the old Sixties adage “Don’t trust anyone over thirty.” Some aging Boomers are now more likely to mutter under their breath, “Don’t trust anyone under thirty.” So it goes.

Certainly all of the former IU students I spoke with who took part in the movement in Bloomington agreed that their experiences in the Sixties

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