History and Nostalgia: The 1950s in popular culture

deadline for submissions: 
January 31, 2025
full name / name of organization: 
PopCRN - the Popular Culture Research Network
contact email: 

PopCRN (the Popular Culture Network) will be holding a free virtual symposium exploring the 1950s in popular culture. Held online on Thursday 28th and Friday 29th of March 2025.

The 1950s was the decade where the world began to recover from the tragedy of the Second World War. This conference aims to explore both the popular culture of the 1950s, and how the 1950s have been depicted in the popular culture of other eras.

The 1950s was the era of the teenager, the atomic bomb, the space race, the Queen’s coronation, the Cuban revolution, the Korean War, the French Fifth republic, Lego, colour television, the Montgomery Bus boycott, the finding of DNA, the founding of McDonalds, Rock n roll, jukeboxes, the Melbourne Olympics, Poodle Skirts, I love Lucy, birth of the credit card, Dr Seuss, James Bond’s Casino Royale, Disneyland opens, Sidney Poitier wins an Oscar, The Day the Music Died, 3D cinematography, Marilyn Monroe, The Twilight Zone, Jackson Pollock, Teddy Boys, Dior’s New Look, Formula One racing begins, McCarthyism, Science Fiction, the Munich air crash, the SS Andrea Doria, Ten Pound Poms, Hungarian Uprising, Univac – the first business computer, Paul McCartney meets John Lennon, the Xerox machine, death of Stalin, Hillary and Norgay climb Mount Everest, the Polio vaccine, the Warsaw Pact, Suez Crisis, introduction of transatlantic jetliners, China’s Giant Leap, the European Economic Community, the Malayan Emergency, the Algerian War, the Eurovision Song Contest, Peanuts comic strip, Fahrenheit 451, The Lord of the Flies, the Chevrolet Corvette, Barbie, Super Glue, Power Steering, first Video Tape Recorder, first Diet soft drinks, the Black Box, invention of Liquid Paper, the first computer game – Tennis for Two, and TV dinners to name just a few.

We welcome papers from researchers across the academic spectrum and encourage papers from postgraduate researchers and early career researchers. Papers from this conference will have the opportunity to be published.

To whet your appetite, we have provided some topics below. We will also accept topics beyond this scope:

  • “I can't imagine there has ever been a more gratifying time or place to be alive than America in the 1950s. No country had ever known such prosperity.” – 1950s America in popular culture.
  • “Some people would like the world to go back to the 1950s.” – Retromania and subcultur          
  • “In 1955, when I'd write a science-fiction novel, I'd set it in the year 2000. I realised around 1977 that, 'My God, it's getting exactly like those novels we used to write in the 1950s!' Everything's just turning out to be real.” – Science fiction of the 1950s
  • “My law school class in the late 1950s numbered over 500. That class included less than 10 women.” – Women’s careers as depicted in 1950s films
  • “But let's just say, I'm Irish. I grew up in the 1950s. Religion had a very tight iron fist.” – Associations of religion and the 1950s in popular culture.
  • "Whoever you are, I have always depended on the kindness of strangers." – Neighbours, community and culture in the 1950s.
  • We're gonna rock, gonna rock, around the clock tonight – The rock ‘n’ roll phenomenon.
  • “You can't just walk out of a drive-in.” – Leisure activities of the 1950s
  • “A revolution is not a bed of roses. A revolution is a struggle between the future and the past.” – Communism, socialism and capitalism of the 1950s in popular culture.
  • “I could have gone on flying through space forever” – How the space race captured the public imagination.
  • “I knew someone had to take the first step and I made up my mind not to move.” – Remembering racism and protest in the 1950s.
  • “Ban the Bomb” - Nuclear weapons in popular culture
  • "[Franklin] came very much closer to the discovery of the double helix than she has usually been credited with doing." – science, gender and women.
  • “The second thing was they just wanted to lay a few fists and see a fair bit of Russian blood in the pool. And that's what happened. – Sport as a battleground for Cold War politics

Please email abstracts (200 words) to popcrn@une.edu.au by 31st January 2025. Please include your name, affiliation, email address, title of paper, orcid ID (where available), google scholar link (where available) and a short biography (100 words). Registration is free.