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

JFK’s lasting legacy

An update from Emily, a sophomore Hunt Leadership Scholar and Dedman College Scholar: In case you’ve been living under a rock for the last year and a half, let me fill you in —today is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of America’s 35th president, John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Dallas will commemorate the event by hosting a ceremony in Dealey Plaza, broadcast simultaneously on video screens through the downtown area. I am a student currently enrolled in a class examining President Kennedy’s life and legacy. When I enrolled last semester, I was overwhelmed with excitement. What better time and place to study JFK and his impact on a generation! However, enrollment in this class has caused great confusion in regards to [...]

2013-11-22T15:21:40+00:00 November 22nd, 2013|Generation Y Studies JFK's Life and Times|

Paying respect to JFK

An update from Sorsha, a sophomore majoring in international studies and anthropology, and minoring in Spanish: I have always been in love with studying the Civil Rights Movement, an interest that I was able to develop in several other classes with Dr. Simon, namely the Politics of Change and most recently the life-changing Civil Rights Pilgrimage. Both of these classes and my own studies projected an image of President John F. Kennedy that I think many people share: the American hero, champion of civil rights, unflagging martyr for the dazzling, volatile 1960s. When I read about this class, it seemed like the natural next step to enroll so as to learn more about this icon and the time that fascinates [...]

2013-10-28T10:06:56+00:00 October 28th, 2013|Generation Y Studies JFK's Life and Times|

How TV changed history

An update from Tatum, a sophomore management science major and business minor: “JFK: His Life, His Times, and His Legend” is easily the most specific academic course I have taken at SMU. This focused approach to one time period, one man and his presidency has allowed us to gain an understanding and exploration far deeper than I have ever had with one historical figure. It quite honestly has made me infatuated with the legacy and image of Kennedy and increasingly aware of how relevant it is in Dallas and across the country as we approach the anniversary. The sources we have been reading and movies we have watched have also made me think critically about the nostalgic images of Kennedy [...]

2013-10-24T15:07:10+00:00 October 24th, 2013|Generation Y Studies JFK's Life and Times|

The human stories behind our history

An update from Trey, a sophomore majoring in economics: This class has been especially interesting for me because of how little I had known about JFK. This lack of knowledge is odd considering my affinity for history; still, before this class I knew little more about Kennedy than his death. And what I have been exposed to is fascinating. I have especially enjoyed the wide range of sources that we have been assigned. The volume of reading that we do in the course can seem overwhelming, but I find it very manageable because of the variety. I especially enjoy the opportunity to observe the differences in opinion that we come across in our reading. Professors Stone and Simon do a [...]

2013-10-23T11:46:08+00:00 October 23rd, 2013|Generation Y Studies JFK's Life and Times|

New perspectives of JFK

An update from Bridget, a sophomore majoring in psychology and journalism: Learning about John Fitzgerald Kennedy from so many different perspectives, including those of Professors Simon and Stone, has shed a new light on what I thought I knew about the Kennedy administration and Kennedy himself. Previously, I identified JFK with the image: the perfect Catholic family, the summers in Hyannis Port, Jackie Kennedy. This class, however, has exposed me to Kennedy the person, rather than Kennedy as a character. Having a history professor teaching us about Kennedy in the context of foreign and national affairs creates a portrait of Kennedy I never knew before. The most intriguing aspect of this class is that Professors Simon and Stone provide students [...]

2013-10-22T11:00:42+00:00 October 22nd, 2013|Generation Y Studies JFK's Life and Times|

Examining JFK for myself

An update from Garrett, a sophomore economics and political science major: As a third-generation Dallas native, I have grown up with my grandparents’ vivid memories of the Kennedy assassination and the impact that it had upon them and this city. Furthermore, as an African American, I also grew up very aware that JFK was well respected in the black community. As I got older, we began to study JFK in school and I encountered more information about his policies and his presidency. Additionally, I became more aware about the often-hyped scandals surrounding Kennedy’s personal life, such as his father’s mob connections as well as JFK’s philandering lifestyle, particularly his relationship with Marilyn Monroe. However, aside from what was required in [...]

2013-10-22T10:54:30+00:00 October 22nd, 2013|Generation Y Studies JFK's Life and Times|

Growing up with JFK stories

An update from Jackie, sophomore majoring in advertising in Meadows School of the Arts and minoring in business in Cox School of Business: The Kennedy name has been familiar to me since I was old enough to understand the importance of people in history. It was not deliberate, however, my first name, Jacqueline, was already chosen when Jackie O passed away a week before I was born. My maternal grandmother's family had a strong interest in history and politics; and because the Kennedys had been part of my grandmother's era, I grew up hearing a great deal about them. My grandmother has countless books in her possession that profile all aspects of JFK in regards to politics, his presidency, his [...]

2013-10-18T11:11:51+00:00 October 18th, 2013|Generation Y Studies JFK's Life and Times|

Understanding the past; preparing for the future

An update from Gerry, a sophomore majoring in biology and minoring in history in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences: I have always liked to consider myself a history buff of sorts. Studying how certain aspects of culture and events cause change over time has always been an intellectual hobby of mine. With that in mind, I have always had a keen interest in John F. Kennedy’s time in office and the events that occurred during that period. Specifically, I’ve always been intrigued with how JFK’s presidency would come to change the nation as a whole. When I saw this course as an option, I was beyond excited. In class, we have just discussed the election of 1960 – a [...]

2013-10-17T11:22:12+00:00 October 17th, 2013|Generation Y Studies JFK's Life and Times|

From class to campus to city

An update from Taylor, a sophomore biochemistry and psychology major: On October 2, 2013, the Daily Campus printed an article titled "In Dallas, JFK assassination legacy lingers.” It was a month into my class on John F. Kennedy, and we had class the day before this article was printed. In our class, we read “American Tabloid” by James Ellroy, a quasi-fictional story chronicling the story behind the assassination of JFK. Throughout the class we talked about a few reasons John F. Kennedy could have been assassinated, but it was strange to read the article in the Daily Campus discussing the hatred that Dallas had toward Kennedy, especially in light of my class. I had no idea Dallas citizens weren’t supportive [...]

2013-10-10T16:43:11+00:00 October 10th, 2013|Generation Y Studies JFK's Life and Times|
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