Project outline: punk and cyberpunk

Since I posted my initial proposal, I’ve decided to back away from the creative option a little bit in order to stick to what I know: blogging. I had fantasies about concocting a hand coded and structured site to host my project, but based on time constraints and the amount of research and writing I’d like to be able to do to really get my ideas in order, it makes way more sense to let a machine handle the back-end. I still intend to get creative with the style and execution of the posts, and I hope that the more informal and flexible structure of a blog will reinforce the ideas I present in ways that a traditional academic essay couldn’t. Here are some of the topics I intend to address:

I. The Story So Far

  • Issues raised by the original punk moment in the 70s
    • nihilistic/dystopian aesthetic
    • connection to avant-garde tradition
    • Punk and politics, esp. anarchism and upset in the social order
    • Impact on the music industry: seizing the means of production?
  • “post-punk” era of the mid-late 80s
  • late 80s/early 90s: cyberpunk! a new mutation of the punk aesthetic or faulty appropriation of the punk discourse?
    • as it pertains to the literary/artistic aesthetic, the “punk” in cyberpunk is hard to decipher
    • Critics addressing aesthetic links between punk and cyberpunk tend to misrepresent the history/ideology of punk
  • the present: an (apparently) decentralized, semi-anarchic DIY media environment online presents the defining terms for contemporary music and subculture, aesthetically and economically

II. Case studies

I intend this to be a pretty significant part of my project, but as such I’m having a hard time nailing down the specifics. The media objects/events I address will vary greatly depending on how the overall gist of my argument takes shape. However, a lot of the examples I mentioned in my original proposal still stand as strong contenders.

III. Unifying Themes and Analysis

  • The Society of the Spectacle
    • Ties between punk and the Situationist International, esp. Debord’s notion of “the spectacle”
      • Debord’s influence on postmodern theorists like Baudrillard
    • Cyberpunk ostensibly fills an emerging need for artistic response to the “postmodern condition”
  • Noise
    • exploring the aesthetic possibilities of noise (in music and to some extent in subcultural “style”)
    • “culture jamming” and playful subversion/subversive play
  • DIY ethos
    • decentralized media production challenging centralized authority
    • the risk of reinventing the wheel, resultant issues of ahistorcism/mystification

Apologies if the outline is somewhat obscure. Since a lot of this is building off research I did last semester, it might be helpful to check out my original project proposal for my Marxism and Cultural Studies term paper, and the subsequent revised proposal.

2 responses to “Project outline: punk and cyberpunk

  1. Rarely do Internet users sit down and read an entire blog. I think what could be possible and interesting with your topic would be to make each entry sort of a stand-alone mini essay on a topic, and then have each post relate to your overall theme. This would make your project interesting and dynamic and maybe help with organization issues with the blogging format. I really like this topic, I’m excited to read more about it – we’ve touched on cyberpunk slightly in class but I feel it deserves more discussion.

  2. I really like the idea of using a blog-based structure for your project, to manage the backend; as jori notes, though, you’ll want to think carefully about how to organize your reader’s experience. Is the material genuinely non-linear, such that a reader can jump in anywhere? Or are there things that need to be read in order — and if so, in what order? You might look at the CommentPress plugin/theme for WordPress as a way of structuring a linear argument within a blog backend — it’s what my book is running in.

    I like the breakdown of the various components of the project — the history, the case studies, the themes — though how it all comes together will heavily hinge on the site’s organization. Let me know how this is going as you’re working on it, or if you want to bounce ideas off me…