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Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Courses : IN250
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Course ID


Course Section

Cross Listing 1


Cross Listing 2


Cross Listing 3


Course Title

From Pac-Man to Perestroika: The 1980s in American Film, Literature, and Culture 


yes (IN250) 

Number of Credits

Course Maximum Enrollment


Adult Enrichment


Willing to ProRate?


Text Book(s) Required

Angels in America, Part I: Millennium Approaches, Tony Kushner, Theatre Communications Group, ISBN: 1559360615

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Frank Miller, DC Comics, ISBN: 1563893428

A Course Reader (to be distributed)

Instructor(s) Name

Tony R. Magagna 

Instructor's Email


College or School Name

College of Arts and Sciences 

Class Date(s)

May 19-23 (on campus) & 5-10 hours of online-only work during week of May 26-May 31 

Meeting Days

Monday; Tuesday; Wednesday; Thursday; Friday 

Meeting Times

9am-12pm & 1pm-5pm 

Room Request

Scovill 211 or similar 


Description: In this course, students will investigate the major events, issues, and individuals that shaped the 1980s in America -- and which continue to shape our nation today. As a class, we will pair an exploration of the popular culture of the decade -- films, comics, television, music, personal technologies, video games, and fashion -- with an ongoing discussion of the national and global politics and cultural conflicts of the decade. In so doing, we will trace the major trends of the 1980s and examine how what we learned (or unlearned) as Americans and global citizens during "the Reagan years" continues to influence popular and political cultures at home and abroad even today. Topics may include: the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union; the rise of video games and personal computing; the AIDS crisis; MTV; Reaganomics; yuppies; apartheid; conspicuous consumption and the art of being "a material girl" (or guy); drug wars, "star wars," culture wars, and secret wars; environmental concerns and disasters; the rise of the American teenager; globalization; and much more! Ultimately, we will hope to come away not only with a sense of how to define a decade in America, but also how a decade has itself helped to define America. [In the past, this course has fulfilled the College of Arts & Sciences literature course requirement]


Primary Films/Texts may include: Tron, Wall Street, And the Band Played On, Spies Like Us, Red Dawn, Bonfire of the Vanities, The Breakfast Club, Taxi Driver, Angels in America, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Bladerunner, and clips/excerpts from many more. In addition, we will encounter the music of artists from Madonna to Michael Jackson, and the further cultural contributions of a diverse crew, including Michael Jordan, Bill Cosby, the Reagans (of course), Mr. and Ms. Pac-Man, and others.


NOTE: Though most of our work will take place on campus from May 19 to May 23, you will be required to complete and submit your final projects online in several stages during the following week. You need not plan to remain on campus to do so, as long as you will have access to the internet.

Immersion Term

Summer 2014 



International Travel Course


Reg Form Lookup

IN250 From Pac-Man to Perestroika: The 1980s in American Film, Literature, and Culture 
Content Type: Item
Created at 11/25/2013 12:40 PM  by Tony MagagnaNo presence information 
Last modified at 1/15/2014 3:05 PM  by Kathlyn J HoushNo presence information 
Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Millikin University - Decatur, IL