WSU Alumna to Speak About Punk Culture

OGDEN, Utah — Southern California’s punk rock subculture gave youths an outlet to create an identity and community apart from the traditions of adults and authority figures.

Weber State University alumna Alexandria Waltz will describe how punk rock continues to influence contemporary culture as part of the Weber Historical Society’s Spring 2016 Lecture Series. The public is invited to her presentation, March 21 at 7 p.m. in the Hurst Center Dumke Legacy Hall on the Ogden campus.

According to Waltz, punk subculture came about in response to an uncertain and seemingly uncaring world.

“I think that is a feeling many students today can relate to, particularly when looking at current election politics and other national and international events,” Waltz said. “It is easy for young people to feel isolated in the modern world. Punks certainly tapped into that feeling when creating their subculture.

Waltz argues that punk culture was not a reaction against the national political arena, as is typically suggested. Instead it was a demonstration of personal politics and self-imposed cultural exclusion. Young people used punk music and culture to express and confront their dissatisfaction with nearly all established authority. The stories of punk bands such as Adolescents, T.S.O.L. and The Vandals, tell of youth antagonism toward peers, police and other punks.

“This is a very recent part of history that nevertheless reflects the angst of the post-’60s generation,” Waltz said. “Punk culture was a unique response to a unique setting, but also seems very familiar to us looking back from the 21st century. This is true for many events and groups in history, and it is something I hope students could appreciate.”

History professor Eric Swedin hopes students will expand their ideas about history, and perhaps clear up misconceptions.

“Students often assume that history is only stories about politics, important people or events in the far past,” he said. “This topic shows how history can also be about recent events and popular culture.”

Waltz graduated from WSU in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in history and English and was the Outstanding Graduating Student for the College of Social & Behavioral Sciences. She went on to get her Master of Arts degree in history from the University of Utah, where she is currently a Ph.D. student studying history. Her focus is 20th century American social movements.

“The faculty and student body were incredibly supportive of me as an undergraduate, and I am always looking for a chance to come back and be a part of that community,” she said. “I feel like I can give back to the school by showing how far I've come in my education since graduating.”

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