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Charlie Brown’s America: The Popular Politics of Peanuts
October 7 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
A Preview Interview with Blake Ball
Despite—or because of—its huge popular culture status, Peanuts enabled cartoonist Charles Schulz to offer political commentary on the most controversial topics of postwar American culture through the voices of Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the Peanuts gang.
Join us as historian Blake Scott Ball takes on the politics of the age-old Peanuts comics, which are at the center of his latest book, Charlie Brown’s America: The Popular Politics of Peanuts.
In postwar America, there was no newspaper comic strip more recognizable than Charles Schulz’s Peanuts. It was everywhere, not just in thousands of daily newspapers. For nearly fifty years, Peanuts was a mainstay of American popular culture in television, movies, and merchandising, from the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade to the White House to the breakfast table.
Most people have come to associate Peanuts with the innocence of childhood, not the social and political turmoil of the 1960s and 1970s. Some have even argued that Peanuts was so beloved because it was apolitical. The truth, as Blake Scott Ball shows, is that Peanuts was very political. Whether it was the battles over the Vietnam War, racial integration, feminism, or the future of a nuclear world, Peanuts was a daily conversation about very real hopes and fears and the political realities of the Cold War world. As thousands of fan letters, interviews, and behind-the-scenes documents reveal, Charles Schulz used his comic strip to project his ideas to a mass audience and comment on the rapidly changing politics of America.
Charlie Brown’s America covers all of these debates and much more in a historical journey through the tumultuous decades of the Cold War as seen through the eyes of Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, Peppermint Patty, Snoopy and the rest of the Peanuts gang.
Blake Scott Ball is assistant professor of history at Huntingdon College.
This event is currently intended to be held in-person at McCord Auditorium, Dallas Hall. However, this may be subject to change as the COVID-19 crisis continues. Any updates will be announced here and across CPH’s social media.
Here, you’ll find more resources to feed your interest in the topics covered at this event.
Connors, Joan. “Popular Culture in Political Cartoons: Analyzing Cartoonist Approaches.” Political Science and Politics, 40(2). April 2007, pp. 261-265. https://www.jstor.org/stable/20451941?seq=2#metadata_info_tab_contents
Handy, Bruce. “The Paradox of Peanuts.” The Atlantic, 29 August 2019. https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2019/08/charlie-brown-charles-schulz-peanuts-papers-excerpt/596878/
Laux, Cameron. “Good Grief!: The beguiling philosophy of Peanuts.” BBC News, 13 November 2018. https://www.bbc.com/culture/article/20181112-good-grief-the-beguiling-philosophy-of-peanuts
Lee, Peter. Peanuts and American Culture. McFarland Press, 2019.
Rudick, Nicole. “How ‘Peanuts’ Created a Space for Thinking.” The New Yorker Magazine, 6 August 2019. https://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/how-peanuts-created-a-space-for-thinking
Ulin, David. “On the Countercultural Influence of Peanuts.” Literary Hub, 22 October 2019. https://lithub.com/on-the-countercultural-influence-of-peanuts/