History of Punk Rock (INART 125)

Fall 2017 | Mondays 6:00-8:45pm | 204 Main Frable Bldg 314
Professor – Dr. Zack Furness *Please feel free to just call me Zack or ‘Professor’
Office – 106B Main Building
Office Hours (Fall 2017) – Mon & Wed 1:30-2:15; Tues & Thurs 1:30-2:30; and By Appt.
*I’m frequently available throughout the week, so just get in touch if you want to chat.
I will post updates to my office hours on Twitter (@punkademic) if I need to make any unexpected changes to my posted office hours.

Office Phone – (412) 675-9153
Course website
Email – *Please allow up to 24hrs for a reply. See my email policy below for more. 
Canvas website – *This is where you will submit your assignments and check your grades.

Course Description
INART 125 is an examination of the origins, development and continued significance of punk rock music and culture. Through an examination of punk’s now more than forty-year history, students will gain an understanding of 1) the place of punk music in the history of rock and roll, 2) the social movements and ideas that influenced the development of punk as a set of creative practices and artistic scenes, and 3) the shifting political relationships between punk and popular cultures within the Americas, the UK, and parts of Asia and the Middle East. The thrust of the course is sociological and cultural rather than musicological, and the intent of the course is to provide students with a comprehensive overview of the development of punk rock and its importance in our social and cultural histories. Each unit of study will be accompanied by key examples of recorded music. The course will include over 200 important sound recordings for required study.

Credit Information
• This course fulfills 3 credits in General Education (GA = Arts) and also fulfills Penn State diversity credits (US or IL). There are no prerequisites for enrollment in this course.

Required Texts
• Daniel Makagon, Underground: The Subterranean Culture of Punk House Shows (Microcosm Publishing, 2015).
• You can either purchase a print copy of this book from the campus bookstore, or buy the Kindle edition linked above (but only if you have the means to physically bring the text to class in a PDF reader of some kind). All other reading assignments will be distributed for free in PDF format.
• Note: I may end up adding another book to the course later in the semester. 

Recommended Texts
• Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain, Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk – 20th Anniversary Ed. (Grove Press, 2016).
• George Hurchalla, Going Underground: American Punk 1979-1989, 2nd Ed. (PM Press, 2016).
• Brian Peterson, Burning Fight: The Nineties Hardcore Revolution in Ethics, Politics, Spirit, and Sound (Revelation Records, 2009).

Other Materials
• Students may be asked to view content outside of class via Netflix. For this reason, students who do not currently subscribe to Netflix are encouraged to do so. Subscriptions are only $8 per month and can be cancelled anytime.
• Students may also be required to rent additional films online for viewing outside of class. At most, rentals will cost a few dollars each.


This is a course devoted to the history of a notoriously confrontational and, at times, controversial subculture. Consequently, it’s fair to say that students in this course will be exposed to themes, ideas, images, sounds and language that some people might find offensive, shocking or upsetting. If that sounds enticing, then you’re in the right place! But if, for whatever reason (and there are many valid ones), this causes you anxiety from the outset, then you may want to re-consider whether this course is the right place for you. In any event, consider yourself duly warned.


Weekly Writing Assignments (60%)

Critical Reflections
Critical Reflections are short (1-2 pg.) relatively informal papers – think about them like intelligent blog posts – in which you will respond to a specific ‘prompt’ from your professor, i.e. a specific question or set of issues outlined in the assignment description. The main point of these assignments are for you to critically engage with some of the ideas presented in specific readings and films. You will write 6 Critical Reflections and you can drop your lowest score.

Listening & Analysis
Listening & Analysis papers are short (1-2 pg.) papers that ask you to analyze specific pieces of music, often in conjunction with lyrics. The main point of these assignments is for you to learn how to develop your listening skills and to find creative ways in which to discuss and analyze the music you hear. Guidelines for each assignment are linked through the schedule. You will write 6 Listening & Analysis papers and you can drop your lowest score.

Scene Report (10%) – Every student will attend a punk show in Pittsburgh at some point during the semester and write a brief paper about the experience. Guidelines for the assignment are posted on the Assignments page.

Mixtape Project (15%) – Students will curate, create, design, and analyze a “mixtape” based on a theme from the course. See the Assignments page for detailed guidelines.

Class Participation (10%) – See below for details.

Twitter (5%– I would like everyone to make regular use of Twitter during this class. For our purposes, I consider ‘regular use’ to be a couple of tweets per week. Details and instructions for first time users are accessible on the Assignments page.

As a general rule of thumb, the following grading scale shall apply to all assignments:
A = 93-100% Excellent (excellence consistently achieved)
A- = 92.9-90% Outstanding (nearly always top quality)
B+ = 89.9-87% Very Good (extremely solid performance)
B = 86.9-83% Good (better than average performance)
B- = 82.9-80% Respectable (demonstrates solid potential)
C+ = 79.9-77% OK (average performance)
C = 76.9-70% Acceptable (meets minimum requirements)
D = 69.9-60% Passing (counts for credit)
F = below 60% Failure (does not meet minimum standards)



The Learning Center
Students in need of tutoring and/or extra help with study skills are encouraged to stop by the John H. Gruskin Learning Center, located in the Kelly Library, Lower Level.  To schedule an appointment, call (412) 675-9088.  Appointments are encouraged, but not required.

Center for Academic and Career Excellence (ACE)
ACE provides academic and non-academic services to students who meet federal eligibility requirements and agree to participate in the program. This includes first generation college students, those from low-income families, and students with disabilities.  The ACE office is located the Lower Level of the Kelly Library. To contact ACE, call 412-675-9491, or send an email to

Disability Services
Penn State welcomes students with disabilities into the University’s educational programs. Every PennState campus has an office for students with disabilities. Student Disability Resources (SDR) website provides contact information for every Penn State campus: The contact person for Penn State Greater Allegheny’s disability services office is Siobhan Brooks, 412-675-9454, In order to receive consideration for reasonable accommodations, you must contact the appropriate disability services office at the campus where you are officially enrolled, participate in an intake interview, and provide documentation: If the documentation supports your request for reasonable accommodations, your campus’s disability services office will provide you with an accommodation letter. Please share this letter with your instructors and discuss the accommodations with them as early in your courses as possible. You must follow this process for every semester that you request accommodations. For further information, please visit Student Disability Resources website:

Counseling & Psychological Services
Counseling and Psychological services are available through the Student Health Service Office in Suite 105A, lower level of the Student Community Center (SCC). Appointments with the Mental Health/Personal Counselor, Drug and Alcohol Counselor, and Medical Doctor are scheduled by Campus Nurse Jennifer Ross. Her contact information is, 412-675-9490. For more resources and information about Student Health Services at Greater Allegheny campus, see also:

Title IX – Protection From Violence and Harassment
Title IX mandates that colleges receiving federal funding provide gender equity, not just in sports, but in all areas of campus life, meaning that all students should be able to study in an atmosphere free of harassment, sexual violence, and gender discrimination. Title IX makes it clear that violence and harassment based on sex and gender are Civil Rights offenses subject to the same kinds of accountability and the same kinds of support applied to offenses against other protected categories such as race, national origin, etc. If you or someone you know has been harassed or assaulted, you can find the appropriate resources here:

Other Services and Resources
Links to additional services and resources for students are accessible through the Links page in the website menu above.



NOTE: These policies are very important, please read them

1. Email
All students are required to make use of their Penn State email accounts. While I recognize that you all have your preferred modes of digital communication (social media, messaging apps, Gmail, etc.), you will still be expected to check your school email account on a daily basis, and I will use that address to discuss all class related business throughout the semester. If your email requires a long reply I will ask you to see me. If you have a question that is easily answered on the course website or in course materials, I will direct you there.

  • Here are some useful tips for communicating with your professor via email.

2. Attendance
Students are expected to attend all classes and read the assignments in order to be prepared for class discussion. Experience shows that there is a direct relation between attendance and performance in the course. Absences hurt your ability to learn and they hurt your grade. In short, come to class! Signing up for this class indicates that you are committed to being here for the full class period each class meeting. Students who miss an unreasonable number of classes in a given semester run the risk of earning a failing grade. In addition, missing an in-class assignment due to an unexcused absence will result in an automatic F for that assignment – this includes speeches, presentations, quizzes, group work and graded participation activities. It is your responsibility to inform the instructor regarding your absence ahead of time. Whenever reasonable, a student should submit a class absence form a week in advance and email it to the professor as an attachment.

The University Faculty Senate Policy on attendance is located here. The policy recognizes that on occasion, students may opt to miss a class meeting in order to participate in a regularly scheduled university-approved curricular or extracurricular activity, or due to unavoidable or other legitimate circumstances such as illness, injury, family emergency, or religious observance.

  • NOTE: The operative phrase in the paragraph above is “on occasion.” If your PSU-related schedule (for university-approved curricular or extracurricular activities) is going to significantly impede your ability to attend our class this semester, your professor strongly recommends that you either a) free up your schedule to ensure your attendance, b) sign up for a different section of this course this semester, if one is offered, or c) enroll in this course during another semester in which you are able to regularly attend class.
  • Religious observance can be a legitimate reason for an absence. Academic Administrative Policy and Procedure R-4, Religious Observances, provides further information and a link to an all inclusive list which provides both major and minor religious holidays, maintained by the Center for Ethics and Religious Affairs.

If you are going to miss a class, please take note of the following:

  • You are still responsible for whatever material was covered in lecture and discussion that day.
  • Please do not email me to find out what you are going to miss (or already missed). Instead, please just check the schedule on the course website or make a point to speak with me during my office hours.

3. Late Arrivals and Early Departures
Your professor finds people entering and leaving the classroom during lecture to be very unpleasant and distracting. Please be on time for class, and if you know that you must leave early on a given day, please let him know before class starts. Please make your visits to the bathroom and drinking fountain before and after class. If you arrive late or leave early (or if your excretory system presents you with an emergency in the middle of class) enter or leave the classroom quietly. If you are more than 20 minutes late, then please don’t come to class. Repeat offenders will find their semester grades reduced.

4. Assignments and Extensions
Completing your assignments is a vital part of succeeding in this course. Information about all course assignments – including weekly readings, papers, speeches and presentations – will be provided well in advance of due dates. All assignments must be completed on time for full credit and there is a limited window in which to submit late work. Important details:

  • Written assignments will be accepted for up to 3 days after the due date with a full grade deduction for each day they are late (the highest grade one can earn a day late is a B, the highest grade after two days is a C, etc.). Assignments submitted more than 3 days after the due date will not be accepted without permission from your professor.
  • Missing an in-class assignment due to an unexcused absence will result in an automatic F for that assignment – this includes speeches, presentations, quizzes, group work and graded participation activities.
  • Clear and coherent writing is an important factor in your success in this class. I urge you to visit the Learning Center on campus and make use of their tutoring services before you hand in written work. I will also be more than happy to look at rough drafts during my office hours.

Problems related to computers, printers, electronic devices, software and/or email are your responsibilities to address; they are not legitimate excuses for late work or incomplete assignments. Here are some easy ways to avoid problems with hardware and software can and do arise:

  • As a responsible student, you should always anticipate potential issues and plan accordingly. First and foremost, you should always keep backup copies of your papers. External hard drives are cheap and don’t require an Internet connection or third party support. Online storage service like Dropbox, iCloud, Google Drive, or Box are also great options. All Penn State students have a sizable amount of free online storage space via Box so there’s no good reason not to use it.
  • Another easy way to ensure the safety of your written assignments is to write them using Google Docs. Documents composed on Google Docs are saved in real time and can be accessed from any device with the connection to the Internet.
  • Regularly backup your computer and electronic devices using an external hard drive or an online storage service.
  • Generally avoid doing work on your smart phone. Beyond the obvious visual benefits of working on a computer or tablet, some smart phones (and some tablets) can limit the functionality and/or features of certain applications and course management systems you are required to utilize as a Penn State student – for example, comment attachments on Canvas are sometimes not visible on iPhones. Such problems can be avoided by simply working on a proper home computer or using one located in a campus computer lab. If you don’t have much experience operating a regular computer, it’s especially important to learn how while you are in college since you will undoubtedly be required to use computers in your post-graduate career.

5. Academic Integrity and Plagiarism
Academic integrity is the pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest and responsible manner. Academic integrity is a basic guiding principle for all academic activity at The Pennsylvania State University, and all members of the University community are expected to act in accordance with this principle. Consistent with this expectation, the University’s Code of Conduct states that all students should act with personal integrity; respect other students’ dignity, rights and property; and help create and maintain an environment in which all can succeed through the fruits of their efforts. Academic integrity includes a commitment by all members of the University community not to engage in or tolerate acts of falsification, misrepresentation or deception. Such acts of dishonesty violate the fundamental ethical principles of the University community and compromise the worth of work completed by others. (Senate Policy 49-20 and G-9 Procedures. For more information on the University’s procedures governing violations of Academic Integrity, please see:

A bit of clarity here about plagiarism is worthwhile given that it’s one of the most common violations of academic integrity. Simply put, plagiarism consists of using someone else’s ideas as your own in formal writing. If you use someone else’s ideas, you are expected to cite them. If you use someone else’s exact words, even if it is just part of a sentence, then you must put quotation marks around the phrase or sentence and properly cite the author. I may not be the smartest person in the world but I am a professional nerd who does research and grades papers for a living. For all intents and purposes, I’m the Bruce Lee of spotting plagiarism. Consequently, I strongly recommend that you do not try to pass off other people’s writing as your own because, to put it bluntly, I don’t mess around. In light of Penn State’s stated regulations and my own desire to administer my plagiarism policies fairly, regardless of the individual responsible for the offense or his/her intentions, my standing policy is this:

  • Any incident of plagiarism in a written or oral assignment will earn you an automatic ‘F’ for this course. I will not submit the incident as part of your official Penn State record, but you will most certainly fail the course at the end of the semester. If you wish to contest my judgement, you are well within your rights to do so according to Penn State’s Academic Integrity procedures, which are linked above. Please note that, should you choose to contest the charge and ultimately lose your appeal, the incident will be officially documented with the university. I don’t say this to scare anyone away from exercising their right to an appeal, I simply state it as a matter of fact and for the sake of clarity.

6. Grading Policy
Grades shall be assigned to individual students on the basis of the instructor’s judgment of the student’s scholastic achievement.  Grades are final and I grade exams and assignments based on your performance, not your intentions.  Effort will be recognized in your participation grade for the course.  I am eager to help you do well on exams and assignments before they are due.  Please visit me during office hours to ask questions when you are working on an assignment or reviewing material. Here are the circumstances under which I would change a grade: (a) if I have made an error, or (b) if I have failed to hold you to the same standard as everyone else. In the event that you feel you received an undeserved grade, you should make your case in writing to your instructor within two weeks of receiving the grade.  Finally, there are very few circumstances in which the professor will award a grade of “incomplete” for the course. If you feel like such circumstances apply, please discuss it with me before the end of the semester.

7. Non-Discrimination & Educational Equity
As a professor at Pennsylvania State University, I value equality of opportunity, human dignity, and diversity. In addition to the Penn States’s official nondiscrimination policy, and within the bounds of the course, I also do not discriminate on the basis of one’s personal opinions or political affiliations. In the simplest terms possible, this means that you do not have to agree with me in order to do well in this course. So long as you demonstrate an understanding of, and an informed engagement with, the course material, you are under no obligation to agree with your professor, your classmates, or anything we read (you don’t even have to agree with yourself all the time). If there is something I can do to make the class more hospitable, please let me know. Be assured that I will treat students with respect, and I will promote a safe and conducive environment for learning. I expect all students to do the same. This means that, in accordance with college policies, I will not tolerate discrimination or harassment in my class, whether on the basis of race, gender, class, religion, national origin, age, sexual orientation, veteran status, or physical ability. If you have questions about the school’s policies, please consult the Student Code of Conduct online at

Consistent with University Policy AD29, students who believe they have experienced or observed a hate crime, an act of intolerance, discrimination, or harassment that occurs at Penn State are urged to report these incidents as outlined on the University’s Report Bias webpage.

8. Respectful College Classroom Behavior
One of the ways in which college differs dramatically from high school or the workplace is that you are all here by your own choice. As tuition-paying adults who have made the conscious decision to take a course that either sparks your curiosity or is required for your major (or both), I presume that you want to be here and that you are eager to learn. As your professor, you can presume that I also want to be here and that I am eager to teach you everything I can about the subject matter. With this mutual understanding in mind, there are no circumstances in which I should have to remind you about the kinds of disrespectful behavior that make it difficult for your peers to learn and for me to teach. Nevertheless, in the interest of having everyone on the same page from the beginning of the semester, here are some basic guidelines that cover what I perceive to be respectful classroom decorum:

  • No cellphone conversations. Turn off your phone, or turn off the ringer and put it away. If you are required to be on call at all times (for ex. you are a caretaker or work in emergency services), please let me know at the beginning of the semester.
  • No texting. Texting in class is rude and disrespectful to your professor. Don’t do it.
  • No chewing tobacco. If I can’t smoke in class then you can’t dip. Period.
  • No laptops unless they are being used for note taking only. Class is not the place to check Facebook and screw around online. Besides, recent research shows that students who take notes by hand retain more information than those who use a laptop for the same purpose.
  • No talking during lectures or film screenings. I strongly encourage participation and dialogue in my classrooms but it is rude and disrespectful to talk while your professor is trying to explain material to the class. If you want to sit and talk to your friends there are plenty of other places to do it.
  • No sleeping. If you need to sleep, please go home. Or at least find somewhere else more comfortable to nap.
  • No excuses for not bringing the readings to class. We can’t have productive and intelligent conversations about course material if you don’t bring (digital or print) copies of the assigned readings to class.
  • No leaving class unless it is absolutely necessary. Walking in and out of class is distracting and disrespectful. The longest you will ever be in my class (before a break or the end of the period) is about an hour and 15 minutes. If this presents a legitimate problem for you physically then you need to make me aware of your situation at the beginning of the semester.

Since you are now briefed on my list of classroom “No’s” please do not put me in the terribly awkward position of having to reprimand you in front of your peers – it is not something that a college professor should ever have to do, nor is it something that I am willing to do on a regular basis for any individual student. Consequently, if I have to wake you up during a nap, or repeatedly ask you to stop texting or talking, then I will simply ask you to leave class that day and I expect your compliance. It’s nothing personal. In addition, I reserve the right to permanently eject students from my course who engage in disrespectful behavior on a regular basis.

9. Reproduction of course materials (with a nod to Jonathan Sterne)
Students are encouraged to take notes and share them with one another. However, they may not be sold or otherwise monetized for personal gain by students or third parties (for instance, by for-profit note-taking services), without the professors expressed, written prior consent. Photos and both audio- and video-recordings of class proceedings are explicitly prohibited without the professor’s expressed, written prior consent. Under no circumstances may they be posted online.

10. Academic Calendar
For important dates pertaining to adding/dropping courses, withdrawal, etc. please consult the appropriate Penn State Academic Calendar.

11. Schedule
All weekly reading assignments (and links to the readings themselves) are accessible through the menu heading on the website, labeled ‘Schedule’.

12. Compliance
By staying enrolled in this class, you acknowledge that you understand and agree to abide by my policies, as well as Penn State’s official regulations (i.e. the accepted codes of conduct and academic integrity). Failure to follow the letter and the spirit of these reasonable guidelines can result in a reduction of your final grade, failure of the course, and/or other penalties set by the university.

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