Creativity in the face of annihilation, art in the absence of attention, activism to oppose apathy… culture from the point of invention.
Sensing commercialization and trivialization of the music they loved, the originators of Hardcore Punk in the United States created a subversive art form that rebelled against entrenched cultural tropes and dominant social and political norms. Through the aggressive sounds, provocative sights, outrageous stories, and beloved artifacts of this torrid movement, students will come to understand how the practices and passions of Hardcore punks provided a vital commentary on both the music scene and the culture at large in the early 1980s. We will look at Hardcore from historical, aesthetic, sociological, and political-economic perspectives and through a diverse range of media including audio and video recordings, documentary films, walking tours, autobiographies, and biographies, as well as historical and theoretical texts. The course will also consider contemporary scenes and subsequent movements that paid homage to Hardcore but also exposed incongruities within the messages of the initial Hardcore scene. Looking at Queercore and Riot Grrrl and connecting developments in Grunge and Hip-hop in subsequent eras helps reveal the enduring impact of Hardcore on a wide range of musical genres whether they be underground, alternative, or mainstream.
Why this course? “Now go start your own band!” – Big Boys. Rather than just a survey of the music and history of Hardcore Punk, this course will engage students in an active manner; inspiring students to participate in expression, communication, dissent(?), or pure creation in an ethos similar to Punkers of the 1980s. Hardcore Punk was about creating networks, collaborating on events, launching labels, and sharing the music. Through three primary assignments, THE RELEASE, and THE GAZETTEER, and THE OUTREACH students will be asked to look at their world and think about how they can use the ethos of Hardcore to inspire them to reach out to people around them, share a message, and build community. The main pivot point of these assignments will be thinking about Hardcore as one of the seminal analog art movements of the late twentieth century and thinking about the media nature of the movement compared to contemporary digital culture. We will do this by reimagining hardcore album releases for the digital age, investigating the growth and spread of hardcore through digital archiving and mapping tools (ArcGIS, Omeka), and conceiving of how students can represent their perspective on that history through creative means.