Cultural Journalism in the Late 1960s

Visual Rhetoric
October 11, 2019
Reflection on Great and Only
October 11, 2019

This assignment is based on the assigned materials listed on the course syllabus, but you may find it useful to do additional research to support your work.

In 1966, Playboy published an interview with Bob Dylan about the reactions to his plugged-in performance at the Newport Folk Festival the summer before. The direct, long-form interview format anticipated one type of article that appeared in the fan magazines of the late 1960s that introduced rock listeners to a new type of music criticism. On p. 262–63, Covach and Flory describe the rise of music criticism “written by rock fans for rock fans” as a style that took performers seriously as artists, rather than cogs in the wheel of the music industry bent on making profits above any other concern, as mainstream music critics tended to do in the 1950s and 1960s.

Tom Wolfe developed his “New Journalism,” featuring subjective commentary, dialogue, colloquial language, and other elements of fiction writing in the years right before Rolling Stone, Crawdaddy, and Creem hit the newstands. Wolfe’s goal in many of his essays and book-length publications was to make countercultural communities in the United States accessible to his mainstream (mostly white, adult, urbanites) readers. His work provided at once critical commentary on the communities he explored (from NASCAR, to Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters, to the world of modern art collecting in Manhattan), and offered a humanizing perspective on the people he met.

Your work should be double spaced, 1-inch margins, with 12-point Times New Roman font. I expect your work to be carefully copy-edited for typos, run-on sentences, grammar, and correct formatting of any album or track titles. Papers with excessive editing and mechanical errors will receive a grade deduction of at least 5%.

Re-read the assigned article by Wolfe, and read Jan Holdenfield’s account of Woodstock for Rolling Stone, published in September, 1969, focusing on the writing style in each, in addition to the content. Identify the elements that you think are particularly effective about Holdenfield’s “by fans for fans” voice and Wolfe’s “New Journalism” style.

You can find Holdenfield’s article here: (Links to an external site.)

Watch the Jimi Hendrix’s set from Michael Wadleigh’s Woodstock. You can find some of Wadleigh’s footage here:
JIMI HENDRIX ~ STAR SPANGLED BANNER WOODSTOCK 1969 (Links to an external site.)

Submit the following:

A review of Hendrix’s set in the style of a fan publication such as Rolling Stone (about 1 page), written from the perspective of a writer in the fall of 1969 (after Woodstock, before Altamont). This review should include both consideration of the sound of the performance and speculation about the way this performance will shape Hendrix’s career and the future of rock festivals.
An article about of Hendrix’s set in the style of Wolfe’s “New Journalism,” for The New Yorker in the winter of 1970 (after both Woodstock and Altamont), the designed to make countercultural communities in the United States accessible to his upper-middle class, intellectual, and mainstream readers (about 1 page). This review should include consideration of the role of music in the countercultural scene of late 1969, and speculation about the future of rock festivals.
A brief analysis of the differences in perspectives and styles that you chose for your two articles. This analysis should include your reasoning for your choices that includes a discussion of your writing style (word choice, sentence structure, etc.); a discussion of your assumptions about your two audiences’ perspectives, biases, and basis of knowledge about the event; and a justification for the parallels or differences between the predictions that your two articles make about the historical implications of Hendrix’s set at Woodstock (about 2 pages).
Your two reviews of the Hendrix performance should be written from the perspective of 1969, and not 2019. They should reflect appreciable differences in perspective and writing style!

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