The Fox Journal

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Professor talks music and sociocultural evolution

By Justin Dolan

A UW-Marshfield English professor presented the second lecture of UW-Fox's Scholars Series March 11.

Matthew Bartkowiak's talk, titled Rock and Revolution, was based primarily on his recent book The MC5 and Social Change.

The presentation included a slide show as well as a short sample of the Motor City Five (MC5) song Kick Out the Jams.

Bartkowiak posed many questions during his lecture, mostly concerning the relationship between music, media and social change. While he is a professor of English, his areas of expertise include popular music, history, music and social change, popular culture studies, 1960's counterculture and American radicalism.

He also inquired whether it is economically viable for record companies to support artists who are trying to take on the harsh realities of everyday life.

"Something like 93 percent of the entire music industry is owned and operated by five companies," Bartkowiak said.

Sophomore Mariah Tralongo, the only student to attend, enjoyed the lecture.

“This one was my favorite so far,” Tralongo said.

Bartkowiak also discussed MC5's place in ‘60s culture.

MC5 was a hard rock band from Detroit in the 1960s. Bartkowiak said their lyrics didn't necessarily equate to social change, but were more hedonistic.

MC5 members were outspoken proponents of the Black Panther party. Counterculture guru John Sinclair formed the White Panther party in support of the Black Panthers.

The band’s alignment with the Black Panthers combined with their use of drugs caused problems for the group.

According to Bartkowiak, Sinclair, who eventually became the manager of MC5, spent time in jail after giving an undercover police officer two marijuana cigarettes.

Bartkowiak concluded his talk by saying that being interested in popular culture will continue its existence.

Scholars Series will end its spring 2013 run with a presentation by author and journalist Richard Louv, where he will discuss themes from his national bestseller Last Child in The Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder in Perry Hall on Earth Day. The event is free and open to the public.

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