Primary Document Assignment 4
Life Magazine Advertisements
For this paper, you will go to https://books.google.com/books?id=R1cEAAAAMBAJ&lr=&hl=ent and access one copy of Life magazine from 1968 or 1969.
You will be looking critically at the advertisements to see what these primary sources can tell you about the United States at the time.
Your paper must answer one of the following two questions:
1. How do the advertisements reflect the changes/chaos in American society in the 1960s?
2. If you do not see the changes/chaos in American society in the 1960s in the advertisements, explain what you do see and what that may mean.
Your 1.5 page paper should have an introduction, specific thesis statement, evidence to support the argument in the body paragraphs, and a conclusion.
Things to think about:
As you know, 1968 was a pivotal year. Do you see any of the chaos or trauma of 1968 reflected in any advertisements? Do you see any evidence of the counterculture? Do you see any of the excitement generated by the youth movement or women’s movement? Do you see any evidence of the successes of the civil rights movement? Do you see the Vietnam conflict reflected anywhere? Or…do you not see any of these sorts of issues or events reflected? If so, what would that mean? What can you deduce?
You might begin by simply turning the pages and looking at every advertisement you see. Think critically about them. You might make notes about what is being advertised, the look or tone of the ads, the wording used to describe the product or service, and the audience to whom you think it is being pitched. Every ad sells the product or service, but it sells something else, too—youth, vitality, wealth, and any number of other things that Americans prize. Make note of what you see.
Then once you’ve begun to make sense of all the ads in the magazine, organize them in your notes and in your mind so that you know what you will be writing about.
Since you are using only one source—that one issue of Life that you have chosen—you may cite in the text only. Please make sure your introduction includes the name and the date of the magazine! Make clear to the reader which advertisement you are referring to in your sentence. Your job is to describe and analyze what you see and to keep the focus on how the advertisements reflect (or not) the themes and issues of the 1960s era. The more specific, the better. You are building a case based on the evidence that you can glean from the advertisements. That case will be your thesis.
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