Back to Top

New history course teaching students to rock 'n roll, 1960s style

The new course, History of Rock 'N Roll in the 1960s, meets every Monday evening from 6:30-9 p.m. in Dicke Hall Room 230. (photo/Office of Communications & Marketing)

The new course, History of Rock 'N Roll in the 1960s, meets every Monday evening from 6:30-9 p.m. in Dicke Hall Room 230. (photo/Office of Communications & Marketing)

A new history course on campus is hard to beat, or, at least, has a beat.

History of Rock ‘N Roll in the 1960s is a course that’s exploring history through the rhythms and lyrics of rock music.

Combining history with music, the fall semester course is examining how society and rock music in the 1960s influenced each other, how rock ‘n roll music is a product of the time period, and how the music continues to resonate in the 21st century. Students should gain a deeper appreciation of the relationship between culture and specific time periods, specifically an understanding of how popular artistic trends developed in the 1960s, commonly known as the Decade of Peace, Love and Harmony.

“As a child of the ‘60s and ‘70s, those two decades of music have always been near and dear to my heart,” said Department of Music Chair Rebecca Casey, who created the idea for the course. Ray Schuck, assistant professor of history, picked things up from there, along with William Mancuso, assistant professor of art. All three faculty members have teamed up to teach the course, using materials which include an extensive list of songs familiar to students, and many that are not as popular, but reflect the time period.

People continue to play songs made famous by The Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Who, The Doors, and Beach Boys. Now Ohio Northern University students are learning the connection between these iconic songs and the time period they were originally performed.

“Many institutions are not paying adequate attention to not only contemporary popular music, but are also quite uninformed in jazz, which is America’s genre, and our unique contribution to the musical world. All of these more contemporary musical styles are legitimate art forms and deserve validity, respect, and study,” Casey reflected.

Schuck, who played in a rock ‘n roll band in New York from 1966-67, designed the course to incorporate the history of the 1960s by viewing the roots of rock ‘n roll music. This includes the blues traditions of the South, the counterculture lifestyle of the Vietnam War and Civil Rights Movement eras, psychedelic music, the recording industry, and international rock ‘n roll music.

“This course will provide students with not just the music of the period, but also the history behind the music and information which they would not have been aware,” Schuck said.

Casey added, “I am working to add knowledge of these musical genres into our curriculum [at ONU] to broaden our knowledge and appreciation of styles of music that resonate with people in the world today.”

Community members are also participating in the course, without receiving course credit. Fifteen community members attended the first class session on August 22, increasing the class roster to 50 students. The class meets every Monday until December 12 from 6:30-9 p.m. in Dicke Hall Room 230 on campus.

The class will include a special concert on October 24 at 8 p.m. in Presser Hall, with the headliner group “Another Round.” It will also feature performances by a mixture of ONU students and faculty members.