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Reframing 1968

American Politics, Protest and Identity

Edited by Martin Halliwell, Nick Witham

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The first 50-year retrospective of the most tumultuous year the 1960s for activism and radical politics

The assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr and Robert Kennedy. Gay rights, women's rights and civil rights. The Black Panthers and the Vietnam War. The New Left and the New Right. 1968 was a tumultuous year for US politics.

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List of Illustrations


Notes on the Contributors

Introduction: 1968: A Year of Protest
Martin Halliwell and Nick Witham

Part I: Politics of Protest

1. The New Left: The American Impress
Doug Rossinow

2. 1968 and the Fractured Right
Elizabeth Tandy Shermer

3. The Irony of Protest: Vietnam and the Path to Permanent War
Andrew Preston

4. Life Writing, Protest and the Idea of 1968
Nick Witham

Part II: Spaces of Protest

5. On Fire: The City and American Protest in 1968
Daniel Matlin

6. Centring the Yard: Student Protest on Campus in 1968
Stefan M. Bradley

7. The Ceremony is About to Begin: Performance and 1968
Martin Halliwell

8. 1968: A Pivotal Moment in Cinema
Sharon Monteith

Part III: Identities and Protest

9. 1968: The End of the Civil Rights Movement?
Stephen Tuck

10. Gay Liberation and the Spirit of ’68
Simon Hall

11. The Women’s Movement in 1968 and Beyond
Anne M. Valk

12. Organizing for Economic Justice in the Late 1960s
Penny Lewis

Conclusion: The Memory of 1968
Stephen J. Whitfield


About the Author

Martin Halliwell is Professor of American Studies and Head of the School of Arts at the University of Leicester. His authored books include Voices of Mental Health: Medicine, Politics, and American Culture, 1970–2000 (Rutgers University Press, 2017), Therapeutic Revolutions: Medicine, Psychiatry, and American Culture, 1945–1970 (Rutgers University Press, 2013), American Culture in the 1950s (Edinburgh University Press, 2007) and Transatlantic Modernism (Edinburgh University Press, 2005).

Nick Witham is Lecturer in US Political History at the Institute of the Americas, University College London. He is a historian of the twentieth-century United States with a focus on the politics and culture of protest and dissent since the 1960s. He is the author of The Cultural Left and the Reagan Era: US Protest and Central American Revolution (I.B. Tauris, 2015).


Separated into three sections, Reframing 1968 cleverly refrains from a predictable plod through the overfamiliar events of the year. Instead, the collection’s authors rethink and reposition 1968 in terms of both its context and its meaning … Consistently fascinating, Reframing 1968 is an excellent primer for readers seeking both a guide to this crucial year and a wider examination of major trends in American social, cultural and political history. It deserves a large audience.

- Joe Street, Northumbria University, History Today

This is a superb collection with solid scholarship and lively writing appealing to specialist and non-specialist alike.

- Lilian Calles Barger, U.S. Intellectual History Blog

In Reframing 1968: American Politics, Protest and Identity, editors Martin Halliwell and Nick Witham offer a percipient volume of essays exploring the social and cultural cross-currents in the making of an iconic year and decade ... Through its robust investigation of the socio-economic dimensions of power and protest, Reframing 1968 complicates and enhances our understanding of 1968 as a unique inflection point in history – and one still contested in academic, social and political circles.

- Jeff Roquen, LSE Review of Books

Few years have so stirred, divided, and haunted America as 1968: a war gone horribly wrong, revered leaders assassinated, ghettoes on fire, social movements oscillating wildly between hope and despair. The contributors to this stellar collection both recreate the intensity of that moment and incisively assess its significance for all that has happened since. Deeply probing, unsettling, and illuminating.

- Gary Gerstle, Mellon Professor of American History, University of Cambridge

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