HIST 1850

HIST 1850

Course information provided by the Courses of Study 2022-2023.

On August 9-10, 1969, ex-convict, aspiring rock star, and charismatic leader Charles Manson ordered his so-called Family to brutally murder a few of LA's rich, white, "beautiful people" and leave clues implicating black radicals. The idea was to trigger an apocalyptic race war he called "Helter Skelter" (after a song by The Beatles). Today, these murders stand as the most infamous in twentieth-century U.S. criminal history and as synecdoche for the "end of the Sixties." They have also spawned a veritable Manson Industry in the popular realm: there are now Manson books, movies, TV shows, documentaries, podcasts, websites, music, comics, t-shirts, and even a tourist attraction (the Hollywood "Helter Skelter" tour). This course analyzes the history of the Manson murders as well as their incredible resonance in American culture over the past half century. Who was Charles Manson and who were the members of the Family? What was the Family's relation to the counterculture, to Hollywood, Vietnam, the Black Panther Party, and environmentalism? How might we fit the Manson murders into the long history of apocalyptic violence and terror? And what does it mean that the Manson murders have occupied our collective imagination for fifty years? To answer these and other questions, we will analyze a variety of sources including television and newspaper reports, trial transcripts, true crime writing, memoirs, interviews, novels, films and documentaries, podcasts and pop songs.

When Offered Fall.

Distribution Category (HA-AS, ALC-AS, HST-AS)
Course Subfield (HNA)

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Syllabi: none
  •   Regular Academic Session.  Choose one lecture. Discussion optional. Combined with: AMST 1850

  • 4 Credits Stdnt Opt

  • 17414 HIST 1850   LEC 001

  • Instruction Mode: In Person

  • 17416 HIST 1850   DIS 201

  • Instruction Mode: In Person

  • 17417 HIST 1850   DIS 202

  • Instruction Mode: In Person

  • 17418 HIST 1850   DIS 203

    • F Sibley Hall 208
    • Aug 22 - Dec 5, 2022
    • Staff

  • Instruction Mode: In Person

  • 17419 HIST 1850   DIS 204

  • Instruction Mode: In Person

  • 17421 HIST 1850   DIS 206

  • Instruction Mode: In Person