The Depiction of the Civil Rights Movement on Mad Men

  • Rod Carveth


Employing Critical Race Theory, Carveth explores how Mad Men portrayed the Civil Rights Movement during the run of the series. Carveth observes that though Matt Weiner was meticulous about atmospheric elements in portraying the members of Sterling Cooper during the Sixties (such as through dress, hair, smoking pot), Weiner gave the major issues of the time (the Kennedy and King assassinations, the women’s movement, Vietnam and especially civil rights) cursory treatment. Carveth examines the disconnect between the world inside and the world outside Sterling Cooper, such that we see the characters and business practices within Sterling Cooper evolve while the agency was apparently little touched by one of the most tumultuous times of change in US history.


  1. Bodnar, John. 1993. Remaking America: Public Memory, Commemoration, and Patriotism in the Twentieth Century. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Coontz, Stephanie. 2000. The Way We Never Were. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  3. Crenshaw, Kimberle, Neil Gotanda, Gary Peller, and Kendall Thomas (eds.). 1996. Critical Race Theory: The Key Writings That Formed the Movement. New York: The New Press.Google Scholar
  4. Delgado, Richard, and Jean Stefancic. 2001. Critical Race Theory: An Introduction. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Delli Carpini, Michael X., and Bruce Williams. 1996. Constructing Public Opinion: The Uses of Fictional and Nonfictional Television in Conversations About the Environment. In The Psychology of Political Communication, ed. Ann N. Crigler, 149–176. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
  6. Fiske, John. 2010. Television Culture, 2nd ed. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Fox, Stephen. 1997. The Mirror Makers. Chicago: University of Illinois Press.Google Scholar
  8. Haynes, Jeannette. 1997. An Oral History of the Social Construction of Cherokee Identity. PhD dissertation, University of New Mexico.Google Scholar
  9. Ladson-Billings, Gloria. 1998. Just What Is Critical Race Theory and What’s It Doing in a Nice Field Like Education? International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education 11 (1) (January): 7–24.Google Scholar
  10. ———. 2000. Fighting for our Lives: Preparing Teachers to Teach African-American Students. Journal of Teacher Education 51: 206–214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Ladson-Billings, Gloria, and W. F. Tate IV. 1995. Toward a Critical Race Theory of Education. Teachers College Record 97 (1): 47–68.Google Scholar
  12. Poniewozik, J. n.d. The Time Machine: How Mad Men Rode the Carousel of the Past into Television History. Time. Available at
  13. Young, James. 1993. The Texture of Memory: Holocaust Memorials and Meaning. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rod Carveth
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Global Journalism and CommunicationMorgan State UniversityBaltimoreUSA

Personalised recommendations