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Rock and Roll: Music and Ideas

Research Resources


Humanities 257

ROCK ‘N’ ROLL—Music and Ideas—Winter 2018

Instructor: Ms. Carmen Hoover

Office: Library 127, 1215-1 p.m. and by appointment     

Phone: 432-5409

E-mail: choover@olympic.edu


REQUIRED TEXT: What’s That Sound?: An Introduction to Rock and its History (4th Ed.) by John Covach


SUPPLIES: Small 3-ring binder with loose leaf paper and 8 tabs


FINAL EXAM: Thursday, March 15, 10-noon


COURSE DESCRIPTION:  In this course, we will examine the history of “high velocity folk music” as it has entered American culture since the end of WWII and impacted world culture.  We will explore the crafts of instrumentation and lyric writing, the social and economic implications of rock, the cultures and subcultures surrounding popular music, and individual artists (famous and obscure) who made it all happen.


Beginning, briefly, with 19th and early 20th century precursors to rock, the course will cover American music to the present day. Through music, videos, and written material, we will approach modern popular music as social history—our primary lenses will be those of creativity, race, class, gender, capitalism, technology, social norms, adolescence, authenticity, celebrity, “soul,” science, and fashion.  In addition, the ideas of youth, rebellion and revolution as possible features of rock’s development will be evaluated.


Because we will be following musical movements, the content will not be strictly linear. We will address a more circular, holistic view of rock ‘n’ roll, with its overlapping influences, its antecedents and its legacy.  This course will consist of videos, feature films, sound recordings, class discussions, student presentations, assigned readings, research, guest artists, and lectures.  


From this central project of studying music that people love and have loved, we will strive to make connections—to other contexts, to other eras, to ourselves as individuals, and to the future of rock-inspired music. By reflecting on meaning rather than memorizing facts, we will strive to arrive at conclusions about the role of music in the development of human culture.


Be aware that the subject matter for this course will be relatively uncensored.  Materials will include potentially offensive depictions of and references to sexuality, violence, legal and illegal drugs, vulgarity, far-out ideas, radical philosophy, anti-social behavior, extreme personalities, and unsavory characters.


This will be balanced by a music history filled with grace, exhilarating beauty, unbelievable talent, down-home fun, pure entertainment, courage, and profound spiritual connection. You will not be excused from course requirements in the event that you are offended, so if you have concerns, please meet with me before the refundable drop date.


We will work within the Social Sciences and Humanities Mission: “to promote critical thinking and inquiry, to nurture creative expression, to inspire a lifelong love of learning, and to foster strong and clear communication. We are committed to social justice, the investigation of human cultures, and to the liberal arts tradition—to teaching our students to learn how to learn.”



●Ability to understand and appreciate the historical context of the works studied.


●Ability to measure the impact of the work on the development of subsequent material.


●Ability to understand the works in terms of content, form(s), technique(s), and achievement(s).


●Ability to produce college-level analysis, while accurately and ethically using both primary and secondary information sources.


●Ability to interact productively with other students.


●Ability to recognize and appreciate a diversity of perspectives:  cultural, ethnic, gender, etc.


●Students will be asked to write their own critical analyses.




The Core Abilities at Olympic College consist of the following five categories:


§ Information Technology & Literacy    § Lifelong Learning

§ Communication                                 § Global Perspective                            

§ Thinking                                           


Description: May 2009 Core_Abilities_Option A




1.   Graduates engage in critical analysis.*

2.   Graduates engage in creative problem solving.*

3.   Graduates engage in quantitative reasoning.



1.         Graduates understand and produce effective oral communication.*

2.         Graduates understand and produce effective written communication.*

3.         Graduates understand and use effective non-verbal communication skills.


Information Literacy and Technology:  

1.         Graduates use strategies to search for information that enhance the acquisition of knowledge.*

2.         Graduates evaluate and appraise sources.

3.         Graduates access and use information and/or technology ethically, legally and/or responsibly.*

4.         Graduates use various inquiry tools and different formats of information (e.g. media).*

5.         Graduates use technology and information appropriate to field or discipline, synthesizing information to formulate insights and create knowledge.*


Lifelong Learning:

1.         Graduates demonstrate self-monitoring and self-advocacy skills to effect positive life changes.*

2.         Graduates demonstrate the ability to recognize, understand, and accept ownership for their own learning and behavior in varied and changing environments.*

3.         Graduates demonstrate the ability to adapt to technological innovations and to understand their implications.*


Global Perspective:

1.         Graduates demonstrate an understanding of their own cultures and the framework upon which their society has been built.*

2.         Graduates demonstrate an understanding of how cultural differences (e.g. beliefs traditions, communication, norms) shape human interaction and perceptions of others.*

3.         Graduates demonstrate that they are aware of, and understand world events (e.g. religious, historical, environmental, political, economic) and the role of human decisions and physical conditions shaping these events and their outcomes. *

4.         Graduates demonstrate an understanding of their own region/bioregion and recognize that other parts of the world are different in both physical and human attributes.

5.         Graduates demonstrate an understanding of universal processes involving both distribution and circulation of resources and their byproducts; e.g. wealth, food, water, oil, gases, energy, and pollutants.


•           Items with an asterisk are the Core Abilities addressed in this class.





ASSIGNMENTS: Graded assignments for this course will allow for an in-depth study of selected areas which will be surveyed in class.


♫ Your Rock Portfolio Binder will include notes from class, film responses, reading responses in and out of class and in-class projects and assignments. Keep it in chronological order using the Portfolio Table of Contents.




Sharing music with the class (25%). On Thursdays, 1-4 students will have the opportunity to share a favorite song or video and talk about it.  Every student should share a song at least once, alone or with a partner—depending on class size, you may share up to 4 songs throughout the quarter. You must provide a lyric sheet for each class member. You will present your song by talking about why you chose it, including background information about the artist/genre/era, reflecting on meaning, and discussing the way that the song fits into music history. You should draw on outside analysis. You should have enough information on hand to answer all reasonable questions from the class. (Homework: 1 hour per week listening to, reading about, writing about, and reflecting on your favorite songs).




♫ Weekly Reflection Papers (25%) will be due every Tuesday. For these, choose seven quotes/summaries/references from both the reading and the in-class media from each week and write a short, typed reflection that comments on the course materials week by week. Apply bold to the seven (or more) quotes/summaries/references. Your reflections could take the form of observations, questions, arguments, challenges, points of fact, or stories. Include reactions to songs shared by your peers and class discussions. Show what you have learned, what you are thinking about, and what you have gained from the materials. You should include earlier class materials as you build knowledge during the quarter. You may also include your Investigations research in addition to the seven quotes from each week’s materials. These will be graded for content only, not for mechanical precision.


Due in class on Tuesdays for a total of 10.


Our emphasis will be on the quality of your ideas—they will not be graded for spelling, grammar, or any formal elements. Typing is required.  Your comments should call attention to key facts and principles, interesting ideas, surprising information, visual highlights, questions, objections, analysis, exploration, pertinent stories, and other points suitable for class discussion. Please apply bold to your seven quotes/summaries/references.


Your 10th final reflection should include your musings on your ideas about the course as a whole—review your previous reflections in preparation for writing the final reflection. (Homework: 3 hours reading and responding per week)


Put yourself in the position you’d like to be in to earn the grade you’d like to achieve. Your cumulative letter grade for Reflection Papers will correspond to the following:


C=I did the assignment, and included quotes from all areas of course materials. I know what I liked or didn’t like, but cannot put my finger on my opinions. Minimum: discussion of 7 quotes/summaries from the textbook, class films and music, class discussions, Investigations research, and Research Guide readings and videos.


B=In addition to the above, I can personally relate to the material by noticing what it reminds me of in my personal life and my other classes, or by noticing emotions, experiences or ideologies that come to mind. I can make thoughtful statements about the material and use critical thinking skills to engage meaningfully and link all elements of the class together. I include my individual research.  I can link the homework to the in-class materials and comment on how they align, overlap or contradict. 


A= In addition to both of the above, I can identify a quotation/summary from a text/video/song and use it to support a mini-essay. I can integrate feelings, facts, and opinions with observations about what is valuable in the material. I show comprehension of and contribute to the material. In my own words, I can build on course information to synthesize the main points, key ideas, and subtleties of the works. I can use examples, known historical facts, musical vocabulary, theories, metaphors, and illustrations to effectively explain the significance of the material and add to a fuller understanding of it. I link the readings to the music and display my accumulation of knowledge as the quarter progresses.  I incorporate notes I took during class discussions and build on the insightful ideas of my classmates. Occasionally, I do outside research to challenge or extend the materials assigned in the course.





♫ Investigations. Two will be due in weeks 3 and 6 (25%). (2 hours per week)


Choose two of the following (you may combine). They will come due one at a time on Thursdays of weeks 3 and 6. These may be typed reports, multi-media explorations, short films, scrap books, power points, or any other format that communicates your project effectively.  If you are turning in projects with clickable links to songs/videos, please email your assignment to choover@olympic.edu.


1—Big History of a Small Detail: A deep exploration of a small cultural detail associated with the history of rock music, its influences, or its descendants such as stage diving, moon walking, the Moog synthesizer, the Jesus Piece, distortion pedals, etc. 

2—Musical Family Tree: An exhaustive exploration of a song, video, or artist that maps at least three generations of influences.


3—Deep Meaning: This extended definition of a concept, sub-culture lingo or practice, a genre,  such as DIY, hip, cool, square, phat, Dub Step, etc.


4—The Vast Horizon: This substantial research-based reflection on a big-picture issue or abstract over-arching idea (examples—recording contracts,  youth revolution, impact of capitalism on creativity, race/gender/class relations as played out in rock music.


5—Dedicated and Annotated Mix-Tape: Create a playlist for a specific purpose, person, or population. This could be a mix-tape for the next generation, for a space alien, for a wedding or funeral, for a crush. This playlist could be used to explore an idea (revolution, cannabis legalization, anti-oppression, gratitude and joy) or a phenomenon (cover songs, one-hit wonders, cross-genre duets, call and response rap). This could be used to explain your music culture to someone from another culture. It could be an introduction to a misunderstood genre that persuades (Screamo mix for your grandmother—that she would actually like).  It might trace the evolution of a single artist. It might include a song from each decade we study in class (1920s to 2014)Create a track by track commentary on what you like about the song, how it fits your theme, background on the song or artist.


6—Performance Recording with Liner Notes. If you would like to write and record songs, turn in a CD or DVD with your performance along with a 1-3 page commentary on your process, goals, and satisfaction with the final project. You have access to the recording studio on the main campus, but you must schedule time in advance. You might make a film, write an Epic poem, or create a series of paintings.


7—Spirited Media Review: You may, in any format you see fit, review a rock-related book, four rock related feature length films, ten albums, or three live performances. You might also consider writing old-fashioned reviews or a personal essay. You could write a meaningful end-of-the year lists of best albums, artist, song, videos, rock books, etc.  Inform and entertain.




Final Exam: (5%) On the last day of class, a two-minute report will be presented to the class. Be prepared to answer questions. This short report should involve the most interesting things you’ve learned, discovered, or invented during the quarter.




♫ As part of a group project, you will research and develop thoughtful, informed interview questions for a class guest assigned at mid-term (20% of your grade).  In your quest to formulate interesting questions, you will be asked to account for at least three sources, which will be turned in as a works cited page the day of the panel interview. (1 hour per week)



GRADES:  You will turn in your final portfolio for a final grade.  Assessment of quality will be based on four criteria—


►The difficulty of projects chosen

►Academic rigor

►Beauty and creativity in the spirit of the music at hand

►Clear expression for communication 


By percentage, your grade will be earned in the following areas:


  1. Class attendance, participation, professionalism, class discussion contributions, and music sharing—25% (or 45% if we do not have live acts)

  2. Rock Journal/Weekly Reflection—25%

  3. Group Project Interview—20% (If band cancels or if funding is pulled, this portion will go to Participation based on your existing participation grade)

  4. < >

    Two Minute Report—5%


    STUDENT RESPONSIBILITIES:  If you miss a class, it is your responsibility to get notes and homework from another student. Some of the films are commercially available, but many are not, so class time cannot always be made up.  If, at any time, you don’t understand a process or project, ask immediately for clarification. If you have a learning disability or physical limitation that may affect your performance in this course, it is your responsibility to talk to me about it at the beginning of the quarter so that we can make legal accommodations in coordination with Access Services.


    Academic dishonesty, including plagiarism, is a serious offense and will result in automatic failure in the course.


    Arrive to class on time, and stay until the end. Power down cell phones and laptops during class, unless you have been called upon to search for information on behalf of the class or use your laptop to take notes.



    PERMISSIONS: From time to time, I like to make a copy of a student’s work (with name removed) for use on the Humanities 257 website, for teacher training, publication, or for my own course-improvement files. If you consent to this, no action is required. If you object to this, please write a note or send an email to me stating that you do not give me permission to make copies of your work for any reason.




    Olympic College seeks to maintain positive learning and working environments that are safe and respectful of the dignity of all members of the campus community. Discrimination on the bases of race, color, religion, national origin, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy, veteran status and all other illegal bases will not be tolerated.


    Sexual Misconduct

    Sexual harassment, sexual assault, domestic and dating violence, and stalking are prohibited forms of sex-based misconduct (see OC Non-Discrimination PolicyStudent Conduct Code, and Grievance Procedure). If you experience or witness sexual misconduct, you are encouraged to report it to the Title IX Coordinator, (CSC 317A; 360-475-7125; cnunez@olympic.edu).  All other forms of discrimination and harassment should be reported to (Human Resource Services, CSC 5th Floor; 360-475-7300; jhanten@olympic.edu).  You can also report sexual and other forms of discrimination and harassment online (anonymously, if desired) at OC, Report It!in the footer of the College website. For confidential support, you can schedule an appointment with one of the Counseling Faculty  ((Bremerton) HSS 203; 360-475-7530;CounselFac@olympic.edu).


    Disability and Pregnancy-related Adjustments and Accommodations

    Any student who requests an accommodation based on the impact of a disability or a medically necessary absence due to pregnancy or childbirth should contact Access Services (360-475-7540; AccessServices@olympic.edu), or visit the office in the Humanities and Students Services Building (Bremerton), Room 205, for information or an appointment.



    Faith and Conscience Accommodations

    Olympic College students can request up to 2 absences for reasons of faith or conscience without adverse impact to their grade. Absences under this Policy should be requested 21 days in advance, or as soon as reasonably possible by submitting a “Student Absence Form: Reasons of Faith or Conscience” found on the Olympic College website. Once a student has received an email verifying the eligibility of the request, they must notify all instructors of the upcoming absence(s).


Subject Guide

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Dianne Carey
Olympic College
1600 Chester Ave
Bremerton, WA 98337

Final Presentations

Final Exam Presentations


Megan & Vincent/10