History of Rock, Part Two

Learn about the growth of rock music, from the early 1970s through the rise of punk and disco in the late 1970s, and from the emergence of MTV, hip hop, and heavy metal in 1980s to the rebellion of Nirvana in the early 90s.

About The Course

This course, part 2 of a 2-course sequence, examines the history of rock, primarily as it unfolded in the United States, from the early 1970s to the early 1990s. This course covers the music of Led Zeppelin, the Allman Brothers, Carole King, Bob Marley, the Sex Pistols, Donna Summer, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Prince, Metallica, Run-DMC, and Nirvana, and many more artists, with an emphasis both on cultural context and on the music itself. We will also explore how developments in the music business and in technology helped shape the ways in which styles developed. 

Emerging out of the experimental and ambitious years of late-60s psychedelia, rock splintered into a variety of styles in the 1970s as the music business continued to expand. By the end of the decade, punk and disco had challenged the excesses of the hippie aesthetic, as rock became more commercially streamlined and radio friendly. The emergence and rise of MTV transformed pop music and propelled the careers of Michael jackson and Madonna, while heavy metal and hip hop dominated the late 1980s. Nirvana leads alt-rock's return to simplicity in the early 1990s. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Will I get a Statement of Accomplishment after completing this class?

    Yes. Students who successfully complete the class will receive a Statement of Accomplishment signed by the instructor.

  • What resources will I need for this class?

    For this course, all you need is an Internet connection, the textbook (if you decide to use it) and the time to read it, an eagerness to seek out and listen to the music, and the desire to discuss the music and the issues it raises.

  • What is the coolest thing I'll learn if I take this class?

    You probably will know a fair amount of rock music when you begin the course, but you'll know a lot more more when you finish it. You may be surprised how much of this new music you will like, even if you initially thought you might not. You'll also gain a deeper and broader sense of context in which to enjoy your favorite rock music. A course that helps you enjoy your favorite music even more--how can you beat that?!

Recommended Background

No previous training in music is required.