Special Subject: Post-Punk Britain 1975-present

Module code: V1420
Level 6
30 credits in autumn & spring teaching
Teaching method: Seminar
Assessment modes: Unseen examination, Coursework

This module covers contemporary British history since the 1970s with a particular emphasis on popular, media and youth cultures. In particular, it uses the emergence of punk both as a specific historic moment in British popular culture (1976-77). But also as a paradigm that contains within it a range of themes, concepts and strategies that account for many of the major developments in Britain's social and cultural evolution since the 1970s.

Consequently, you explores themes such as:

  • the challenge to the post-war consensus in Britain and the disruption of settled political boundaries
  • responses to economic and institutional crisis, especially unemployment and deindustrialisation
  • the development of youth orientated DIY culture, challenging established orders through symbolic clashes and appropriation, fascinated with the tensions around the market and authenticity (the sell out and the prank)
  • new definitions of cultural radicalism and identity politics
  • the cyclical eruption of moral panics and delinquency, particularly around recreational drug use and new media technologies
  • the role of retro and revivalism in contemporary British culture
  • the evolution of the night-time economy and the regeneration of regional centres
  • fame, celebrity and banality in the media
  • obscenity, profanity and censorship.

The module is founded on a range of online archives as well as many locally available resources, and connections with a range of activists, musicians and cultural entrepreneurs. Where appropriate, site-specific seminars will further explore the connection between local and national developments.

Module learning outcomes

  • Write on a focused topic with critical awareness of broader course themes.
  • Demonstrate critical understanding of key academic debates.
  • Locate, analyse and interpret primary source materials.
  • Demonstrate strong factual and conceptual understanding.