Shayna MaskellSep 28, 2021
Politics as Sound
The Washington, DC, Hardcore Scene, 1978-1983
University of Illinois Press 2021
Washington, DC is known as the birthplace of hardcore punk. The raw, innovative, new sound coming out of the nation’s capital in the late 1970s is examined in Shayna Maskell’s Politics as Sound: The Washington, DC, Hardcore Scene, 1978-1983 (U Illinois Press, 2021). Maskell examines the DC hardcore scene between 1978 and 1983, focusing on the bands Bad Brains, Minor Threat, State of Alert (S.OA.), Government Issue (G.I.), and Faith. She explores the culturally, historical, and political impact of DC as the site for the emergence of hardcore punk. A brief history of Washington DC situates the scene in a broader cultural narrative that moves beyond just the music’s aesthetics. Focusing on race, class, and gender in the hardcore scene and specifically on the ways in which the scene embodied and embraced white, middle-class masculinity, Maskell presents the complicated and at times contradictory representations of these signifiers that were born out of hardcore. Maskell uses interviews with participants, albums, and ephemera—zines, posters, flyers—to document and analyze this historical moment. Maskell's work is a strong examination of hardcore and its broader impact in the punk subculture, especially when it intersects with race, class, and gender.
Rebekah Buchanan is an Associate Professor of English and Director of English Education at Western Illinois University. Her research focuses on feminism, activism, and literacy practices in youth culture, specifically through zines and music.