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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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 with so many portrayals of Kennedy, it is up to us to form our own opinions. We read multiple sources in preparation for class: some highly praise Kennedy and revere him as a classic American hero, while others criticize him for being an overly confident womanizer whose family influence bought his way into the White House, and, in a way, both sides have some truth. But the trick for the students is to be able to absorb all the information we’re given yet simultaneously filter it and reform it through our own perceptions and experiences as Generation Y.

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