The Oxford Handbook of Punk Rock

This quite large-scale new international publishing project was contracted with Oxford University Press in 2017: The Oxford Handbook of Punk Rock. I had been gestating and working on the idea for a couple of years or more, on and off, but things really started happening when I invited music journalist and scholar Dr Gina Arnold to be co-editor, and she was so enthusiastic about and engaged with it.

Our wonderful and patient editor at Oxford (NYC office), Anna-Lise Santella, has been committed and fully supportive since practically the day my initial tentative exploratory email landed in her inbox. Further information about the more than 40 Oxford Handbooks that deal specifically with music is available here.

The punk project has had support also from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, as part of a 12-month post-doctoral position working on DIY Cultures and Participatory Arts (2017), within my Connected Communities Leadership Fellowship role. Dr Lucy Wright, Senior Research Associate, undertook an initial literature review for the book, about the scope and state of the art of punk studies today, and we also organised a Punk in the Provinces symposium at Norwich Arts Centre, which sold out.

We contacted key researchers and writers in the field, both well-established ones and more recent ones with something new to say, to invite them to be involved by contributing a chapter. We ended up working with about 35 authors in total, though one or two fell by the wayside, as happens with most edited collections. (Or maybe it’s just the people I hang around with.)

Helen Reddington’s chapter features in Oxford Handbooks monthly blog

We have edited all chapters, received revised final drafts back from our authors, sorted out images with them, and sent digital packages off to OUP.  They are now being copyedited and proofed, going through the production process, and individual chapters are beginning to appear. As with all Oxford Handbooks, each chapter is published online first and then all together as the hard copy of the book. Here you can see the chapters published online to date. Our book will be out in we hope late 2020, early 2021.  

Below is some further information about the book, followed by a table of contents showing all authors and chapter titles.

The further [punk] recedes into the distance, the more important it seems. (Severin, bassist in Siouxsie and the Banshees, 1994)

Now 40+ years after punk rock, rather than the 20 of the time of Severin’s observation, the ‘explosion of negatives’ that Jon Savage described punk as in England’s Dreaming still demands critical attention. From ‘White riot’ to Pussy Riot it has marked or stained our musical and cultural history.

Or should that be not ‘40 years after’ but ‘40 years of punk rock’? It seems that, in spite of the Sex Pistols’ bold declaration, ‘No future’, the musics and scenes of punk have had a future, after all. We can think of punk’s high period as c. 1976-1984, and then with revivals and longer-term influence and legacy. It has a longevity and visibility, which may be as much on account of its DIY practice, its anti-authoritarian attitudinality as on its actual music and sounds.

While there are now dedicated punk journals, a wide number of academic publications, and funded research networks and projects, there is we think no comparable book like this proposed. Punk continues to fascinate across disciplines and generations of academics, yet a definitive set of writings has still to be produced. An outstanding opportunity.


Table of Contents

George McKay and Gina Arnold. Introduction. ‘Straight outta Forest Hills’: the roots of punk and why it matters

Part One: London’s Burning: Revisiting Pre- and Early Punk

  • Lucy Wright. ‘Enjoy it, destroy it?’ 40 years of punk scholarship
  • Nick Crossley. The punk worlds of Liverpool and Manchester, 1975-1980
  • Matt Worley. ‘I don’t care about London’: punk in Britain’s provinces, circa 1976-1984
  • Helen Reddington. Danger, anger and noise: women punks of the late 1970s and their music
  • Pete Dale. Punk as folk: continuities and tensions in the UK and beyond
  • Mike Dines. Art school manifestos, classical music and industrial abjection

Part Two. Oh Bondage, Up Yours! Gender and Punk

  • Shayna Maskell. Minor Threat and the intersectionality of sound
  • Jessica A. Schwartz. Let’s talk about sex: punk, rap and reproductive health
  • Riot Grrl: Historiography and Nostalgia
  • Kirsty Lohman. Queer and feminist punk in the UK

Part Three. Two Sevens Clash: Punk, Race, Ageing

  • Marlén Ríos-Hernández. ‘Don’t be afraid to pogo’: Latinx punk in LA
  • Curran Nault. Queer punk/trans forms
  • Marcus Clayton. Guilty of not being white: on the visibility and Othering of black punk
  • Andy Bennett. Punk and ageing
  • Lucy O’Brien. Identity is the crisis: how 1970s punk women live it now

Part Four. Safe European Home: International Punk Movements

  • Ivan Golobov. Punk in Russia: from the ‘declassed elements’ to the class struggle
  • Asya Draganova. The new flowers of Bulgarian punk
  • Paula Guerra. Iberian punk, cultural metamorphoses and artistic differences in the post-Salazar and post-Franco eras
  • Jim Donaghey. Punk in Belfast, Northern Ireland: critical perspectives on the Troubles and post-conflict ‘peace’

Part Five. Neat Neat Neat? Style and Media

  • Monica Sklar and Mary Kate Donahue. From Punk to poser, t-shirts and authenticity
  • Russ Bestley. ‘Kicks in style’: a punk design aesthetic
  • Mary Fogarty Woerhel. The art of slouching: posture in punk
  • Ben Halligan. World’s End: punk films from London and New York, 1977-1984
  • Samantha Bennett. Sound Recordists, workplaces, technologies and the aesthetics of punk
  • Kevin C. Dunn. Fanzine scenes

Part Six. Noise Annoys: Punk and Politics

  • Michael Goddard. ‘This is Radio Clash’: 1st generation punk as radical media ecology and communicational noise
  • Joe O’Connell. Alien kulture/Rock Against Racism
  • George McKay. Post-punk popular music and festival in anti-nuclear and anti-war campaigns in 1980s Britain
  • Judith A. Peraino. Pussy Riot, punk on trial

Part Seven. Lost in the Supermarket. Punk is Dead : Punk, Capitalism and Selling Out

  • Daniel S. Traber. You ain’t no punk, you punk: the goddamn alt-right
  • Ryan Moore. Touch Me, I’m Rich: from punk to grunge to the alternative nation
  • Gina Arnold. Death in Vegas