Written Assignment 3: Global Developments and Live Performance
The 1960s were a tumultuous decade. Against the backdrop of global crisis and in opposition to
military campaigns, large portions of the postwar generation expressed oppositional political
stances and formulated alternate cultural practices. The 1969 Woodstock live music festival,
which brought some of the period’s leading rock music artists to an audience of almost half a
million, became the widely visible climax of American counterculture.
Woodstock has persisted in public memory as an iconic event of the 1960s partially for its
extraordinary coverage. Michael Wadleigh’s 1970 documentary film Woodstock: Three Days of
Peace and Music, which offers authentic, intimate, and detailed perspectives on the festival,
received critical acclaim in many forms and has reached a remarkable box office gross. It is
regarded as the quintessential concert documentary on rock music.
Based on your background knowledge from textbook readings and your individual analysis of
the film as a primary source, write an argument-driven and evidence-based essay in response
to the following question:
In what ways did the 1969 live music festival Woodstock reflect 1960s counterculture,
and to what extent was it an effective response to the challenges and concerns that
young Americans faced?
To present an informed and original response, you might want to consider the following
questions for inspiration as you watch the documentary and prepare your essay:
⦁ What literal, visual, and aural elements of this primary source speak to key developments of
the period such as sexual liberation, the Civil Rights movement, alternate lifestyles, drug
consumption, and anti-war protest?
⦁ In what ways do attendees (on and off stage) express “otherness,” or deviation from
established norms, or opposition toward mainstream culture (think: song messages, spoken
statements, behavior, conduct, appearance, fashion etc.)?
⦁ What do the featured songs (lyrics and music) say about hippie lifestyle and counterculture?
How do they point at the generational divide between babyboomers and older Americans?
⦁ What specific political issues are central to the event? What stances are expressed in
performances (such as those by Joan Baez, Crosby Still Nash & Young, Jefferson Airplane,
Country Joe McDonald, and Jimi Hendrix)? What positions do interviewees from the audience
⦁ What meanings do sex, drugs, and rock music have in the context of the festival’s microcosm?
Are their primary purposes of passive (think: escapist) or active (think: oppositional, contrarian)
⦁ What demographic groups within the general populace (think: age, race, sex, gender etc.) did
this festival attract, and who appears to be absent, or at least underrepresented, and why?
⦁ How did the festival site relate to the “world outside” in analogy to how postwar youth culture
related to American society at large? What elements (think: shapes, colors, iconography etc.)
characterized the open-air venue aesthetically? How did contemporary witnesses outside the festival site respond to the event?
⦁ How did individual experiences of liberation and the collective experience of a mass gathering
work in conjunction? What tensions became tangible between the festival as a commercial
venture (as which it began) and a communal happening (into which it evolved)?
⦁ Given the mix of influences (Swami Satchidananda speech, yoga instruction, military
assistance) and performances (The Who, Joe Cocker, Santana etc.), to what extent was
Woodstock an international event? Against the backdrop of Cold War tension and escalating
combat in Vietnam, how can Woodstock be understood as a response of young Americans to
Access the FIU Library’s stream of Woodstock directly here (you must be logged in):
Locate that stream in the FIU Library catalog by searching for the item:
“Woodstock: Three Days of Peace and Music / Warner Bros.”
Find a listing of musical performances in chronological order here (under “Artists by
Use the textbook to contextualize your analysis and cite specific data to outline significant
developments of the period. You need to present your own ideas in your own words, so refrain
from using external sources in the preparation of this essay.
Your essay needs to be 1,000 to 1,500 words in length. Make sure your paper begins with an
introduction, continues with concise body paragraphs, and ends with a brief conclusion. Your
introduction must feature a thesis statement that identifies your argument and maps out your
essay. Each body paragraph needs to address a specific topic, theme, or aspect. The
conclusion has to feature some thoughtful reflection as a closing statement.
Refrain from writing like a critic who reviews musical pieces (avoid qualitative judgments and
taste-based assessments), and instead write like a historian who analyzes this primary source
to discuss the past.
Format your paper in accordance with the standards of the Chicago Manual of Style. Identify all
cited content with the aid of proper footnotes and include a full list of works cited. Cite the
textbook as an e-book as per the Chicago style sheet. To cite specific information from the
documentary, apply this simplified format:
Woodstock: Three Days of Peace and Music (1994 Director’s Cut), directed by Michael
Wadleigh (USA, 1970), Stream,
Woodstock, dir. Wadleigh, 1:17:20.
Wadleigh, Michael (director). Woodstock: Three Days of Peace and Music (1994 Director’s Cut).
USA, 1970. Stream, accessed [date on which you accessed the stream].
Put all text in Arial 12pt font (and put all footnote text in Arial 10pt). Double-space all text (except
for footnotes and bibliography). Use margins of one inch on each side of each page. Indent the
first line of each paragraph.
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