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Back by popular demand! Discover (or re-discover) some of the most popular Curious Minds courses from the past year.

As World War Two ended, two new rival Superpowers dominated the global landscape: the USA as the acknowledged leader of "The West;" and the USSR as the leader of "the Communist Bloc." This series from Curious Minds favourite Dr. Peter Harris will trace the extraordinary cultural and artistic developments that emerged in the shadow of this new "Cold War," transforming the modern world. Guiding us between Washington, Moscow and Berlin, the great world city that acted as the conflict’s proxy battleground, Dr. Harris will offer his trademark blend of wit and erudition, political analysis and cultural insight, and bring to life the era’s most impactful movements and icons. He’ll explore a fascinating age of reinvention whose impact is still felt today.

Led by Peter Harris, the former Assistant Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science of the University of Toronto. He previously helmed the popular Curious Minds series The Age of Upheaval: The 1920s and 30s in Paris, Berlin and New York; The 1960s: From Berkeley to Berlin; and Designing the World: The Global Starchitects.

Course registration: $49 (Hot Docs Members: $33, $27, Free)

Curious Minds Speaker Series sponsored by

Hollywood Suite


The six lectures in this series are now available to stream. You can access each lecture at your leisure by clicking on links in your confirmation email, or by visiting your My Shows page.

Lecture #1: A New World Order
The years immediately following the end of the Second World War produced a wholescale realignment of the world’s social and geopolitical landscape. As we track the emergence of the Iron Curtain, the Berlin Airlift and the Marshall Plan, we’ll survey the Cold War’s growing impact on the cultural life of the West.

Lecture #2: Bombs Abroad, Boomtimes at Home
As China fell to the Communists, and the Korean War got under way, a series of social and cultural developments transformed Western societies: the Baby Boom and the rise of Suburbia; and the emergence of architecture as a form of ideological expression. With Socialist Realism ascendant in the East, “Googie” architecture cast a spell across the American sunbelt.

Lecture #3: The Furious 50s
With the death of Stalin, the East Berlin riots and the US’s increasing engagement in foreign proxy wars, the early 1950s were a period of global unrest. Meanwhile, American society experienced its own domestic tremors: the Red Scare, the rise of television and the extraordinary works of Abstract Expressionism produced by artists like Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko.

Lecture #4: Shake, Rattle & Roll
As Cold War ideology played out in Hollywood genre films, the civil rights movement left its mark on popular music and the West’s emergent youth culture fueled the rise of rock. In the hip-shaking, pompadoured presence of the young Elvis Presley, these cultural currents converged.

Lecture #5: The Cracks in the Curtain
As nationalist movements reshaped the Cold War map, and space emerged as a new front in its battle for influence, artists on both sides of the conflict challenged societal norms. We’ll explore the censorship battles involving Allan Ginsberg and The Beats, and how Boris Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago played out in Soviet Russia. 

Lecture #6: A New Era Dawns
At the end of the 1950s, a series of extraordinary political and cultural transitions paved the way for the swinging Sixties. After checking in with Castro and Che in revolutionary Cuba, and the Cold War warriors of the new JFK administration, we’ll close our survey of the post-war decades with a series of cultural luminaries: Mies van der Rohe and the giants of International architecture; the photographer Robert Frank; and the side-splitting comedians of the Golden Age of American satire.

Streaming for all Curious Minds lectures is available worldwide. Need assistance? Visit our FAQ page or email us at [email protected].

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