History of Rock Examined in New Course

History of Rock Examined in New Course



From the time a British quartet and a country boy from Memphis made appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show in the early 1950s, the American music scene was forever changed. The Beatles, Elvis Presley and many other artists brought “rock and roll” music to America’s teenagers.


Since then, rock and roll has had a profound influence on popular culture. To examine this phenomenon, Dr. Dan Hanson is teaching “The History of Rock and Roll” this summer at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma. The 10-week course traces the beginnings of rock and roll in the 1950s through its current forms.


Hanson, a professor of music at USAO, said this is his first effort at teaching about the history of rock and roll.


“I have taught courses in American pop rock and jazz three times before, and I have also been reading from a textbook on rock and roll for years now,” he said. “So, I feel prepared to tackle this challenge.”


“Rock and Roll” by Joe Stuessy is the course textbook, and is assisting students as they take a closer look at almost every influential rock band or performer from Little Richard and Elvis Presley through hip-hop, rap, and all current trends in rock, said Hanson.


Through recordings, videos, live demonstrations and discussion, students are examining the specific social impact and entertainment value of influential groups such as the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Beach Boys, The Who, Led Zeppelin and dozens of individual personalities. Other contemporary artists, such as Eminem and John Mayer, are being discussed in the course, as well, Hanson said.


Hanson wants people to realize that not only is this a class about the rich history of popular music in this country, it is a class about the history and sociology of America itself in the last fifty years.


“We’re looking at the cultural and historical perspectives that helped formulate rock and roll as a form of musical expression and its impact on cultural and contemporary life over the last 50 years,” Hanson said. “I want students to appreciate that rock and roll has had a major impact on world culture and continues to be a significant part of the social fabric.”


In addition, movies with musical themes, such as “Blackboard Jungle” and “American Graffiti,” are being shown as part of the “History of Rock and Roll,” said Hanson.


Hanson also recently completed a 25-minute interview on this unique course with the Oklahoma Regents for Higher Education. The interview was broadcast last Saturday over nine radio stations, including KOMA-AM in Oklahoma City. It is available on the state regents office at

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