Program Details

The 1980s: A Film Retrospective on a Dynamic Decade

Burton Atkins
Movies / Politics

Course Description

The election of president Ronald Reagan in 1980 coincided with an era of dramatic change in the United States and abroad. At home, the stock market escaped from the doldrums of the 1970s and, reflecting a revival of economic growth, soared to new record highs. Abroad, Margaret Thatcher became the United Kingdom’s first female prime minister and ushered in a dynamic but often controversial period of British politics. Despite Mikhail Gorbachev’s policies of perestroika and glasnost, the Soviet Union was bogged down in a quagmire in Afghanistan that some in the United States liked to call the Soviet’s Vietnam. By 1989, the wall dividing East and West Berlin since the 1960s ceased to exist. So, too, did the Soviet Union. This series will use movies from and about the 1980s to explore the politics and culture of this dynamic decade, one that took the United States out of the doldrums of the 1970s and brought Reagan, along with Thatcher and Gorbachev, to the world stage. (Film selection and order of presentation is subject to change)


  1. Issues of Civil and Criminal Justice: A Civil Action; Star Chamber
  2. Thatcher’s Britain: The Iron Lady; Billy Elliot
  3. Power and Money in the 1980s: Wall Street; Steve Jobs
  4. Looking at Personal Relations: Ordinary People; On Golden Pond

About the Instructor

  • Burton Atkins, PhD, is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Florida State University (FSU). Currently, he teaches political science at FAU and for Penn State University. In his 35-year career at FSU, Atkins taught a variety of courses on and wrote extensively about constitutional law and U.S. politics and served as chair of the political science department. He lived in London from 1992 to 1997 while serving as the Director of FSU's London Study Center, and from 1997 until his retirement in 2006, he served as Director of the FSU International Affairs Program.

Upcoming programs presented by Burton Atkins.

TypeNumberInstructorCourse TitleAdd to Cart
4wk ES341A Burton Atkins Movies That Address Ideas About Power and Justice
Available for purchase until Saturday, June 27
Prerecorded presentation from Spring 2020