A History of Punk from 1976–78: A Free Online Course from the University of Reading

From Matthew Wor­ley, pro­fes­sor of mod­ern his­to­ry at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Read­ing, comes the free online course Anar­chy in the UK: A His­to­ry of Punk from 1976–78. (Wor­ley is also the author of the book, No Future: Punk, Pol­i­tics and British Youth Cul­ture.) The course cov­ers the fol­low­ing ground:

In the late 1970s, a new youth sub­cul­ture emerged in the UK. This, of course, was punk, and a cul­tur­al revolt was under­way.

In this course, you will learn about the emer­gence of punk and its diverse range of mean­ings. You’ll use that lens to explore how youth cul­tures pro­vid­ed space for peo­ple to reimag­ine, dis­cov­er and chal­lenge the soci­ety and com­mu­ni­ties in which they were com­ing of age.

You’ll explore punk as a tool of expres­sion for young peo­ple, and how it relat­ed to pol­i­tics and events. You’ll con­sid­er punk’s rela­tion­ship with gen­der, class, race, sex­u­al­i­ty and protest, draw­ing com­par­isons with the youth cul­ture of today…

This his­to­ry course also has an empha­sis on the cre­ative side of punk. You’ll explore DIY punk design and writ­ing, epit­o­mised by fanzines. You’ll learn how to cre­ate a real-life fanzine of your own, all the way to pub­lish­ing and dis­tri­b­u­tion. This will help strength­en your com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills and encour­age inde­pen­dent thought and cre­ativ­i­ty.

Among oth­er things, the course will cov­er:

  • The diverse mean­ings of ‘punk’, its roots and its effects on British cul­ture.
  • The orig­i­na­tors and defin­ing events that led to punk’s spread across the UK and beyond.
  • The music: how the Sex Pis­tols opened the way for a wide range of sounds and bands.
  • Why fanzines became the per­fect medi­um for punk.
  • Punk’s influ­ence on pub­lish­ing, fash­ion, art and design.
  • Punk’s impact on issues of gen­der, class, race, sex­u­al­i­ty and protest.
  • Punk’s lega­cy and con­tin­u­ing influ­ence on soci­ety.

Anar­chy in the UK: A His­to­ry of Punk from 1976–78 can be tak­en for free on the Future­Learn plat­form. The course will be added to our list: A His­to­ry of Punk from 1976–78: A Free Online Course from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Read­ing.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

How the Clash Embraced New York’s Hip Hop Scene and Released the Dance Track, “The Mag­nif­i­cent Dance” (1981)

The Sex Pis­tols Riotous 1978 Tour Through the U.S. South: Watch/Hear Con­certs in Dal­las, Mem­phis, Tul­sa & More

The Sex Pis­tols Make a Scan­dalous Appear­ance on the Bill Grundy Show & Intro­duce Punk Rock to the Star­tled Mass­es (1976)

The Sex Pis­tols’ 1976 Man­ches­ter “Gig That Changed the World,” and the Day the Punk Era Began


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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.