SoSe 16: "Revolution Girl Style Now!" Gender and Punk in the US (1970s-2000s)
This course will introduce B.A. students to theoretical approaches of women's and gender studies and to methods of historical research as a tool to analyze the varieties of women's experience in ... read more
This course will introduce B.A. students to theoretical approaches of women's and gender studies and to methods of historical research as a tool to analyze the varieties of women's experience in contemporary American society from the 1970s onwards. We will focus on punk as a specific, enduring (sub)cultural phenomenon that has often been accused of
being an exclusively white straight male youth culture, which creates problems both for its political stance as well as for those members of the scene(s) who do not identify as such.
Issues of race, gender and sexuality have been central to punk throughout its history, from Bad Brains and the Avengers to Bikini Kill and Limp Wrist. In the early 1990s, the all-female punk band Bikini Kill released their first cassette "Revolution Girl Style Now!". With feminist lyrics and their performance the band challenged the male dominated punk culture and set off the so-called Riot Grrrl movement which still inspires female punk musicians such as Pussy Riot today.
Students in this course will learn how to investigate and analyze the social construction of gender and its intersections with other socially-constructed categories of difference (such as race, ethnicity, sexuality, age, and others). The objective of this course is to study the role of gender and feminism in US punk and to observe how difference and diversity are negotiated in a (sub)culture that explicitly defines itself as critical of the dominant culture. In this context, students will engage with both secondary sources and primary documents. They will learn how to analyze, reflect and interprete primary sources, e.g. song texts, fanzines, newspapers, oral history interviews, etc.
As a part of the final evaluation, I expect students to participate in class regularly (see course requirements below). Since most class meetings will center around discussion of recordings, videos, and essays, it is crucial that you have studied these materials before class, and that you are ready and able to articulate your questions, opinions, conclusions, etc. about them. In this context, please prepare the following reading for the first session:
Scott, Joan Wallach. "Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis."
The American Historical Review, Vol. 91, No. 5. (Dec., 1986): 1053-1075. This article is available via JSTOR once you are logged in: http://ahr.oxfordjournals.org/content/91/5/1053.full.pdf+html, accessed 14 March 2016.