American Culture Studies Ph.D. Dissertations


Building Cold War Warriors: Socialization of the Final Cold War Generation

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


American Culture Studies

First Advisor

Andrew Schocket (Advisor)

Second Advisor

Karen Guzzo (Other)

Third Advisor

Benjamin Greene (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Rebecca Mancuso (Committee Member)


This dissertation examines the experiences of the final Cold War generation. I define this cohort as a subset of Generation X born between 1965 and 1971. The primary focus of this dissertation is to study the ways this cohort interacted with the three messages found embedded within the Cold War us vs. them binary. These messages included an emphasis on American exceptionalism, a manufactured and heightened fear of World War III, as well as the othering of the Soviet Union and its people. I begin the dissertation in the 1970s, - during the period of detente- where I examine the cohort's experiences in elementary school. There they learned who was important within the American mythos and the rituals associated with being an American. This is followed by an examination of 1976's bicentennial celebration, which focuses on not only the planning for the celebration but also specific events designed to fulfill the two prime directives of the celebration. As the 1980s came around not only did the Cold War change but also the cohort entered high school. Within this stage of this cohorts education, where I focus on the textbooks used by the cohort and the ways these textbooks reinforced notions of patriotism and being an American citizen. The dissertation ends with a textual analysis of the various popular television, film and music that reinforce the three messages found within the us vs. them binary, and the ways these texts served to continue this cohort's socialization.