When the Second World War ended, the United States enjoyed an enormous material advantage over the rest of the world, but it was not yet a fully liberal society or a serious actor in cultural affairs. Over the next twenty years, the U.S. invested in the economic recovery of Japan and Western Europe. Along with the U.K., it created the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. It hosted the new United Nations. At a time when the U.S. engaged with the rest of the world and as conditions changed in the country, so did arts and ideas. Ideas mattered. Painting mattered. Movies mattered. Poetry mattered. In his book The Free World: Art and Thought in the Cold War (FSG, 2021), Louis Menand analyzes the economic, demographic, and technological forces that drove social and cultural change, and he introduces us to the personalities at the center of this transformation: George Kennan, Hannah Arendt, George Orwell, Jackson Pollock, Allen Ginsberg, James Baldwin, Susan Sontag, Andy Warhol, Pauline Kael, John Lennon, Jean-Luc Godard, and countless others. Over two semesters, this study group will examine the period between 1945 and 1965 — an era of creative innovation and intellectual debate.