Trent University Department of English Literature, Peterborough engl 4801H: Producing Punk Hugh Hodges, Fall 2012 Email, Phone and Office Hours

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Trent University Department of English Literature, Peterborough
ENGL 4801H: Producing Punk

Hugh Hodges, Fall 2012
Email, Phone and Office Hours
Please make an appointment if you wish to consult me in person (Traill College, SH 201). For smaller matters, use email ( I check email regularly; if you email me with a question, expect a response within two working days (I don’t answer email on weekends). Messages left on my office phone (705 748 1011 6078) can languish for days if I don’t happen to be in the office, so it’s generally better to use email.
Course Outline
In this course we will study the literary and cultural history of punk and post-punk in Britain (spanning, approximately, the years from 1976-1980). We will be concerned with the meaning of style, with the politics of popular music in late-70s Britain, with the role of the music press in the creation of punk, with the production and circulation of punk culture, with the appropriation of that culture by the music industry, and, of course, with the aural d.i.y. mayhem that was punk. Our approach will be to balance three kinds of discussion: theoretical (music theory, performance theory, cultural theory), literary (textual analysis) and historical (social and political). So when we discuss the Sex Pistols’ “God Save the Queen”, for example, we will be concerned with its lyrics, with the sound it makes, with its packaging and marketing, with its censorship, with the music press’s reaction to it, with the political and cultural situation that produced it, with its impact on fashion, with the public it invoked, and any number of other questions.
Course Format
Please check to confirm times and locations.
Seminar A Scott House 102.1 Tuesday 19:00-20:50

Seminar B Scott House 102.1 Thursday 10:00-11:50

If you are entirely unfamiliar with the genre we will be examining in this course, I strongly recommend either one of these texts as a place to begin:
Clinton Heylin. Babylon’s Burning, From Punk to Grunge.

Jon Savage, England’s Dreaming: Anarchy, Sex Pistols, Punk Rock and Beyond
The coursepack will include selections from:
Lester Bangs, Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung

Jean Baudrillard, Simulacra and Simulation

Andy Beckett, When the Lights Went Out

Walter Benjamin, The Work of Art in the Age of its Technological Reproducability and other

writings on Media

Pierre Bourdieu, The Field of Cultural Production

Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle

Kevin Dettmar and William Richer eds. Reading Rock and Roll

Simon Frith, Performing Rites

___. Sound Effects

___ed. On Record: Rock, Pop and the Written Word

___. Music for Pleasure

Simon Frith and Howard Horn, Art into Pop

Zack Furness ed. Punk Academics

Christopher Gray ed. Leaving the 20th Century

Dick Hebdige, Subculture: the meaning of style

___. Cut n’ Mix: Culture, Identity and Caribbean Music

Don Letts, Culture Clash

John Lydon, Rotten

Glen Matlock, I Was a Teenage Sex Pistol

Greil Marcus, Lipstick Traces

Richard Middleton, Studying Popular Music

Mark Perry, Sniffin' Glue: The Essential Punk Accessory

Maria Raha, Cinderella’s Big Score

Simon Reynolds, Rip it Up and Start Again

Roger Sabin ed. Punk Rock: So What? The Cultural Legacy of Punk

Alwyn Turner, Crisis? What Crisis?

Michael Warner, Publics and Counterpublics

Francis Wheen, “Going Underground”, Strange Days Indeed

Sheila Whitely ed. Sexing the Groove

Assignment: Value: Due Date
Presentation 1 15% before reading break

Presentation 2 15% after reading break

Participation 15% ongoing

Mini Essay (1500 wds) 15% October 21st

Major Essay (3500 wds) 40% December 5th

Presentations & Participation
You will be asked to present twice in this course, once on a week’s readings and once on week’s listening or viewing. One of your presentations must come before the reading break.
Your presentation may be as formal or as informal as you like, but in either case it should create opportunities for your colleagues to contribute to discussion. If you are presenting formally, do not talk for more than 10 minutes before opening things up to conversation. Try to gauge your presentation so that both it and the questions it raises can be dealt with in about thirty minutes.
Your presentations will be graded on:
Preparation (33% of your grade)

Insightfulness (33% of your grade)

Effectiveness (33% of your grade)
Your participation will be graded on:
The consistency with which you make insightful, constructive, informed contributions to class discussion.
Attendance without participation in discussion will not count towards your participation grade. Each absence from class will reduce your participation grade by 10% (if there is a documented medical reason for an absence, the lost grade can be made up with a 1500 word report on the week’s reading and listening). See MLS for additional information.

Mini Essay
Create a playlist of 10-15 songs (they do not have to be from the listening lists for this course – in fact, I strongly encourage you to go further afield). The playlist should explore some element of UK punk, 1976-1980; your essay (1000-1500 words) should explain the playlist. I do not expect elaborate research, but your facts should be straight and your sources acknowledged. See MLS for additional information

Major Essay.
Write on any topic relevant to this course that satisfies the following requirements:
1.Your essay must discuss some of the music we have listened to in this course.

2.Youressay must draw on some of the readings we have read in this course.

3.Your essay must include research into material that was not part of this course (e.g., cultural theory, history, politics, music theory, psychology)

4.Your essay must have both a discography and a bibliography. The

bibliography should include at least five texts.
See MLS for additional information.
Submission Policies
See MLS for details of all assignments. All submissions should be made online, through MLS.
Essays may be submitted up to one week late without penalty, although I can’t undertake to make comments on late papers. Essays more than one week late will not be accepted.

Schedule: One two-hour meeting weekly.
1 Introduction: For those about to (punk) rock

Hear: some genre-defining tracks 1977-1979

1 The Clash “White Riot” (first wave punk)

2 Buzzcocks “Harmony in My Head” (power pop)

3 The Jam “To Be Someone” (mod revival)

4 The Specials, “A Message to You Rudie” (ska revival)

5 The Fall, “No Xmas for John Quays” (post punk)

6 Sham 69, “If the Kids are United” (Oi)

7 Crass, “Do They Owe Us a Living?” (anarcho-punk)


The Filth and the Fury
2 Making sense of mass culture

Some seminal concepts in cultural theory that will inform our reading of punk.

Theodore Adorno, “On Popular Music,” On Record [online]

Richard Middleton, “’It’s All Over Now’ Popular Music and Mass

Culture – Adorno’s Theory,” Studying Popular Music.


Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of its Technological Reproducability”

Randal Johnson, “Introduction.” Pierre Bourdieu, The Field of Cultural Production
Hear: some #1 hits, 74-79

(none of them punk)

1 Abba, “Waterloo” (1974)

2 Paper Lace, “Billy Don’t Be a Hero” (1974)

3 Rod Stewart, “Sailing” (1975)

4 Elton John & Kiki Dee, “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” (1976)

5 Brotherhood of Man, “Save Your Kisses For Me” (1976)* best selling single of the year

6 The Wurzels, “Combine Harvester” (1976)

7 Elvis Presley, “Way Down” (1977)

8 10cc “The Things We Do For Love (1977)

9 Wings, “Mull of Kintyre” (1977)* best selling single of the decade

10 Boney M, “Rivers of Babylon” (1978)* best selling single of the year

11 Blondie, “Heart of Glass” (1978/79)

12 The Buggles, “Video Killed the Radio Star” (1979)
3. Making sense of how music makes sense:

Some contemporary theories of popular music

Simon Frith “The Value Problem in Cultural Studies” Performing Rites

Simon Frith, “The Meaning of Music” Performing Rites

Susan McClary and Robert Walser, “Start Making Sense! Musicology

Wrestles with Rock”, On Record [online]


Richard Middleton, ‘Lost in music’? Pleasure, value and ideology in

popular music”. Studying Popular Music.

Simon Frith, “Making Meaning”, Sound Effects

Hear: American influences on UK Punk

1 The Stooges, “No Fun” (1969)

2 MC5, “Rocket Reducer N. 62 (1969)

3 Velvet Underground, “I’m Waiting for the Man” (1967)

4 Captain Beefheart, “I Love You, Big Dummy”(1970)

5 New York Dolls, “Trash” (1973)

6 Patti Smith, “Gloria” (1975)

7 Television, “Blank Generation” (1975)

8 Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers, “Roadrunner” (1976)

9 The Ramones, “Blitzkrieg Bop” (1976)

4. Context: Britain and British youth in 1976

An introduction to the social and political context of punk.

Andy Beckett, “Waiting for the Collapse”, When the

Lights Went Out

Simon Frith, “The Use of Music” Sound Effects

Glen Matlock, I Was a Teenage Sex Pistol pp. 15-27

John Lydon, Rotten pp. 7-28


Francis Wheen, “Going Underground”, Strange Days Indeed

Hear: UK precursors to punk

1 Mott the Hoople, “Whizz Kid”

2 Kilburn and the High Roads,“Rough Kids”

3 Dr. Feelgood “I can Tell”

4 Dr. Feelgood, “Milk and Alcohol”

5. Dr. Feelgood, “Stupidity”

6 Eddie and the Hot Rods, “96 Tears”

7 The 101’ers, “Junco Partner”

8 The Count Bishops, “Teenage Letter”
5 Situationists and agents provocateurs

Reading punk as art

Christopher Gray ed. Leaving the 20th Century (excerpts)

Simon Frith and Howard Horne, “Art and Pop”, “The Pop Situationists”

Robert Garnett, “Too low to be low: Art pop and the Sex Pistols,” Punk

Rock: So What? [online]

Jean Baudrillard, “The Precession of Simulacra”

Guy Debord, “Separation Perfected,” and “The Commodity as Spectacle.”

(on the subject of boredom, commodity and spectacle)

1 Sex Pistols, “Anarchy in the U.K.” (1976),

2 Sex Pistols “Holidays in the Sun” (1977)

3 The Clash, “London’s Burning” (1977)

4 The Buzzcocks, “Boredom” (1977)

5 The Carpettes, “Wunderbar” (1977)

6 The Adverts, “Bored Teenagers” (1978)

7 X-Ray Spex, “Art-I-Ficial” (1978)

8 The Raincoats, “Fairytale in the Supermarket” (1979)

9 The Clash, “Lost in the Supermarket” (1979)

10 Crass, “You Pay” (1978)

11 Crass, “Chairman of the Bored” (1979)

12 The Members, “Sound of the Suburbs” (1979)

13 The Buzzcocks, “Why Can’t I Touch it?” (1979)

14 The Jam, “That’s Entertainment” (1980)
6 Sex and the meaning of style

Reading punk as fashion

Dick Hebdige, “Style as Homology and Signifying Practice” On Record

[online – search in TOPCAT and follow the links]

Gary Clarke “Defending Ski-Jumpers: A Critique of Theories of Youth

Subcultures” 81-89 On Record [online]

Frank Cartledge, “Distress to impress? Local punk fashion and

commodity exchange,” Punk Rock: So What? [online]

Sinker, Mark. “Concrete, so as to self-destruct: The etiquette of punk, its habits, rules, values and dilemmas.” Punk Rock: So What?: [online]

Hear: on self-reflexivity and style

1 Alternative TV, “How Much Longer” (1977)

2 Television Personalities, “Part Time Punks” (1978)

3 The Clash, “(White Man) In the Hammersmith Palais” (1978)

4 X-Ray Spex, “I Am a Poseur” “Identity” (1978)

5 Crass, “Punk is Dead” (1978)

6 The Door and the Window, “Part Time Punks” (1979)

7 David Bowie, “Fashion” (1980)

8 Adam and the Ants, “Prince Charming” (1981)

9 Adam and the Ants “Stand and Deliver” (1981)

10 (bonus track) The Kinks, “Dedicated Follower of Fashion” (1966)
7 First wave: 1976-78

So, can we define this thing now?

Simon Frith, “Songs as Texts” and “The Voice” Performing Rites

Cliff McCarten, “Rough Grain: Significations of the Early Punk Voice”


Simon Frith, “Why Do Songs Have Words”
Hear: first wave UK punk

1 The Sex Pistols, “Pretty Vacant” (1976)

2 The Damned, “New Rose” (1976)

3 The Clash, “Janie Jones,” (1977)

4 The Clash, “Career Opportunities,”

5 The Jam, “In the City” (1977)

6 The Jam, “Sounds from the Streets” (1977)

7 The Sex Pistols, “God Save the Queen”(1977)

8 The Buzzcocks, “Breakdown” (1977)

9 The Users, “Sick of You” (1977)

10 The Drones, “Corgi Crap” (1977)

11 The Cortinas, “Fascist Dictator” (1977)

12 The Boys, “I Don’t Care”(1977)

13 Wire, “Three Girl Rhumba” (1977)

14 Wire, “Mr. Suit” (1977)

15 Wire, “12 X U” (1977)

16 Eater, “Outside View” (1977)

17 The Damned “Neat Neat Neat” (1977)

18 Snivelling Shits, “I Can’t Come” (1977)

19 Sham 69, “I Don’t Wanna” (1977)

20 Chelsea, “Right to Work” (1977)

okay, but it’s 1978 now; is it still punk?

21 The Undertones, “Teenage Kicks” (1978)

22 The Clash, “Tommy Gun” (1978)

23 The Jam, ’A’ Bomb in Wardour Street” (1978)

24 The Jam, “Down in the Tube Station at Midnight” (1978)

25 The Adverts, “One Chord Wonders” (1978)

26 The Boys, “Brickfield Nights” (1978)

27 The Lurkers, “Ain’t Got A Clue” (1978)

28 Sham 69 “Borstal Breakout” (1978)

and then was it ever punk?

29 The Stranglers, “Peaches” (1977)

30 The Vibrators, “Baby, Baby” (1977)

31 Elvis Costello, “Less than Zero” (1977)

32 Slaughter and the Dogs, “We Don’t Care” (1978)

33 The Soft Boys, “I Want to Be an Anglepoise Lamp” (1978)

34 The Rezillos, “Destination Venus” (1978)
8 Next Wave: Marxists and smartypants

Greil Marcus, “It’s Fab, It’s Passionate, It’s Wild, It’s Intelligent! It’s the Hot New Sound of England Today!” Rolling Stone (July 1980)

Simon Reynolds, “Militant Entertainment” Rip it Up and Start Again

Simon Reynolds, ”Autonomy in the U.K.” and “Messthetics”, Rip it Up and Start Again


Lester Bangs, “The Clash”


1 Wire, “Practice Makes Perfect” (1978)

2 The Rejects, “Stir Crazy” (1977)

3 The Rejects, “Technique Street” (1977)

4 Scritti Politti, “Hegemony” (1978)

5 Scritti Politti, “Messthetics” (1978)

6 The Fall, “Repetition” (1978)

7 Alternative TV, “Action Time Vision” (1978)

8 Gang of Four, “Damaged Goods” (1979)

9 Gang of Four, “At Home He’s a Tourist” (1979)

10 Gang of Four, “Outside the Trains Don’t Run on Time” (1979)

11 Scissor Fits, “I Don’t Wanna Work for British Airways” (1978)

12 Swell Maps, “H.S. Art” (1978)

13 Swell Maps, “Robot Factory” (1979)

14 Desperate Bicylces, “Skill” (1979)

15 The Clash, “Something About England” (1980)

16 Funboy Five, “Compulsive Eater” (1980)

17 Diagram Brothers, “There is No Shower” (1980)

9 Oh Bondage Up Yours!

Intersections of punk and feminism


Simon Frith and Angela McRobbie, “Rock and Sexuality” On Record


Norma Coates, “(R)evolution Now?”

Maria Raha, “Voodoo Dolly,” “Number One Enemy,” “The Day the Girls Turned Dayglo,” “Shaved Women, Collaborate!”

1 The Slits, “Typical Girls”

2 The Slits, “Ping Pong Affair”

3 The Slits, “Love Und Romance” (1979)

4 X-Ray Specs, “I Am a Cliché” (1978)

5 The Raincoats, “Lola”,

6 The Raincoats, “Only Loved at Night” (1979)

7 Kleenex (Liliput) “Krimi” (1978)

8 The Chefs, “Food” (1978)

9 Penetration “Don’t Dictate” (1977)

10 Petentration, “She Is the Slave” (1979)

11 The Au Pairs, “Domestic Departure”(1979)

12 The Au Pairs, “It’s Obvious” (1980)

13 Poison Girls, “Persons Unknown” (1980)

14 Girls at Our Best, “Getting Nowhere Fast” (1980)

15 Crass, “Bata Motel” (1981)

See: Derek Jarman, Jubilee

10 Sing if You’re Glad to Be Gay

Intersections of punk and queer culture

Andy Beckett, “The Real Sixties”, When the Lights Went Out

Alwyn Turner, “Sexualities” Crisis? What Crisis?

Tavia Nyong’o “The Intersections of Punk and Queer in the 1970s” Punk Academics


TRB, “Glad to Be Gay”


Derek Jarman, Jubilee

11. Working Class Heroes

Punk and the problem of authenticity

Simon Frith, “Musicians and the Audience”

Garry Bushell, “The Story of Oi!”

Ian Goodyer, “Rock Against Racism”

Dettmar & Richey, “Modeling Authenticity”
Hear: oi!

1 Angelic Upstarts, “The Murder of Liddle Towers” (1978)

2 Cockney Rejects, “Oi! Oi! Oi” (1980)

3 Cockney Rejects, “Police Car” (1979)

4 Sham 69 “Hersham Boys” (1979)

5 Menace, “Last Year’s Youth” (1979)

6 The Exploited, “Army Life” (1980)

7 The Exploited, “Punks Not Dead” (1981)

8 Charged G.B.H. “City Baby Attacked by Rats” (1981)

9 Blitz, “Nation on Fire” (1982)

10 Cock Sparrer, “Where Are They Now?” (1983)

11 Cock Sparrer, “England Belongs to Me” (1983)

and anarcho-punk

12 Crass “White Punks on Hope” (1979)

13 Crass, “Greatest Working Class Rip Off” (1982)

14 Varukers, “Protest and Survive” (1981)

15 Newtown Neurotics, “Living With Unemployment” (1983)
Week 12: It was easy, it was cheap, go and do it.

Insights and problems from your research.

There are no required readings this week. The following are texts that were included in previous versions of the course but didn’t find a home this time:
Mark Perry, Sniffin' Glue: The Essential Punk Accessory

Simon Frith, “Making Records” Sound Effects

Michael Warner, Publics and Counterpublics

Don Letts, “Dread Meets Punk Rockers” Culture Clash

Alwyn Turner, “Race” Crisis? What Crisis?

Simon Frith, “Rhythm, Race, Sex and the Body” Performing Rites

University Policies
Academic Integrity

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