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The University of Southampton

HUMA2020 From Teddy Boys to Drag Queens – Music and Subculture

Module Overview

This module aims to develop critical listening skills and an awareness of music as a social phenomenon. The module is open to students from across the humanities and beyond, and students do not require music specific skills, such as score reading or analysis. There are no pre-requisites. We will explore a range of youth subcultures that emerged in the West from the 1950s up until the present day, such as Teddy Boys, Mods, Rockers, Punks and Drag Queens and cybercultures. We will study the ‘symbolic subsystems’ of each group - their style, speech, ritual and especially their music. To better understand why subcultures emerged and what they represent, we will consider a range of cultural theories, including notions such as deviancy, generational conflict, consumerism, identity, territoriality, and performance. We will look at select genres within the history of rock music and consider the role of music in group formation, as style, as commodity, and as cultural products that both shape and reflect society. The module will be based on the study of books and articles, and close listening and viewing of audio-visual materials.‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • The subcultures covered in this module
  • The relationship between music and other symbolic systems (e.g. language, fashion, ritual) to their social context
  • Of theories of difference (e.g. gender, race, generation) and their application to the analysis of performance and popular music
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Listen analytically to a variety of musics
  • Apprehend and describe a piece of music using critical listening skills
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Engage critically with cultural materials
  • Demonstrate your understanding of the topic through writing
  • Use appropriate bibliographical and research tools – recorded, printed and on-line
Cognitive Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Differentiate between different subcultures and musical styles covered in this module
  • Identify basic musical elements and instruments in the musics covered in this module
  • Construct arguments that engage complex social issues.


A series of topics will be presented over the semester with each topic examining a musical practice within a distinct social context. Examples of issues and topics that may be explored include: • Case studies of specific subcultures such as Teddy Boys and Glam. • The roots of Rock Music • Comparative studies of competing musical, aesthetic and cultural styles (e.g. Progressive Rock vs. Punk, Mods vs. Rockers) • Alternative music as mainstream • Hot and Cold cultures and generational conflict • Girls and subcultures, and feminist perspectives • The Chicago School and ethnographic approaches • British Cultural Studies and theoretical approaches • Cultural and subcultural capital

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include • Lectures • Discussion • Sharing of ideas and materials via Blackboard and other electronic resources Learning activities include • A range of readings • Study of audio and video recordings • Use of online resources

Preparation for scheduled sessions40
Completion of assessment task40
Wider reading or practice34
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Reynolds, Simon. The Sex Revolts: Gender, Rebellion and Rock ‘N’ Roll. Harvard University Press, 1996.. 

Hall, Stuart, and Tony Jefferson, eds. Resistance Through Rituals: Youth Subcultures in Post-war Britian. Routledge, 2003.. 

Gelder, Ken, ed. The Subcultures Reader. Routledge. 2005.. 

Reynolds, Simon. Shock and Awe: Glam-rock and its legacy, from the Seventies to the Twenty-first Century. Harper Collins, 2016.. 

Thornton, Sarah. Club Cultures: Music, Media and Subcultural Capital. Polity, 2005.. 

Bennett, Andy, Barry Shank and Jason Tonybee, eds. The Popular Music Studies Reader. Routledge, 2006.. 

Barthes, Roland. Mythologies. Translated by Annette Lavers, Vintage, 2000.. 

Rose, Tricia. What We Talk About When We Talk About Hip Hop-and Why It Matters. Basic Civitas Books. 2008.. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (2200 words) 40%
Exam  (2 hours) 40%
Group presentation  (10 minutes) 20%


MethodPercentage contribution
Resubmit assessments  (2200 words) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:


No additional costs have been associated with this module.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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