Generation Y Studies JFK's Life and Times

Forty SMU undergraduates have a unique opportunity to capture the zeitgeist of a turbulent time as the nation prepares to observe the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas on Nov. 22. SMU political science Professor Dennis Simon and senior English lecturer Tom Stone in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences are teaching a special course during fall 2013 that examines the life, times and legend of JFK.

The students and professors are blogging about their experiences here. Learn more about SMU’s experts and archival collections related to the presidency and assassination at

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A volatile time in America’s history

An update from Kate, a sophomore majoring in psychology, with minors in English and business:

So far in Professor Simon and Stone’s class, we have discussed a lot of history relating to JFK and his family as well as to the time at which JFK broke onto the political scene. Learning the history of the time has allowed me to understand more about JFK as a leader. He faced numerous pressures from his family while dealing with a volatile nation. We have spent a lot of time focusing on the Red Scare. It is difficult to believe that as a nation, we were prosecuting each other. Every time we have class, I learn so much about one of the most difficult times in the nation.

I am interested in learning more about JFK. We have been setting the scene in which he led the nation. As we discuss information that we’ve read, it is very interesting to reflect on the different types of personas writers portray. JFK is a legend but a different type of legend to different people – to some he is a hero and perfect in every way, while to others he was a weak president with numerous flaws.

I look forward to learning more about JFK and our nation during a very difficult time. Right now, Dallas is a great place to be learning about JFK with all the buzz going on. I am learning so much outside of class, too, because the city is preparing to memorialize him once again as the date of his assassination draws near.

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