The Kennedy Era

The Kennedy Era

Led by: Prof. Barbara Perry (University of Virginia)
Course Number: AMHI 662
Semesters: Fall 2023, Summer 2020, Spring 2019



Image: Letter from Senator John F. Kennedy about the minimum voting age, 1957 (The Gilder Lehrman Institute, GLC09784)

Response letter from John F Kennedy to constituent over issue of voting age

Course Description

This course examines John F. Kennedy’s biography, career, rhetoric, and policies, and uses political symbols and the media to contextualize the Cold War, the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban Missile Crisis, Vietnam, the Peace Corps, civil rights, the space race, and the arts, to gain both knowledge of and perspective on the thirth-fifth president and his family’s legacy as carried on by Robert and Edward Kennedy. Followed by Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society and Richard Nixon’s Southern Strategy, the fraught era concluded with the unprecedented resignation of a US president, which continues to resonate in today’s polarized politics.

Download Course Syllabus

Lecture Preview

Lecture 6: “JFK’s First Year: From Rhetoric to Reality on the ‘New Frontier’”

About the Scholar

Barbara Perry, Gerald L. Baliles Professor and Director of Presidential Studies, University of Virginia

Barbara A. Perry is the Gerald L. Baliles Professor in Presidential Studies at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center, where she co-directs the Presidential Oral History Program. She has authored or edited seventeen books on presidents, First Ladies, the Kennedy family, the Supreme Court, and civil rights and civil liberties. Perry has conducted more than 140 interviews for the George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama Presidential Oral History Projects; has participated in the Bill Clinton interviews; directs the Edward Kennedy Oral History Project; and co-directs the Hillary Rodham Clinton Oral History Project. She served as a US Supreme Court fellow and has worked for both Republican and Democratic members of the Senate.