New York '80s culture

Course Dates: 02/11/23 - 07/12/23
Time: 18:00 - 19:30
Location: Keeley Street
This course will introduce you to the New York of the 1980s where art, music, theatre, fashion and nightlife were combining and the finest young artists Haring and Basquiat, Blondie and Grandmaster Flash, graffiti and punk. We will explore how different artistic movements informed each other in the period and how the forces of gentrification and increasing control by the City made these kinds of collaboration less possible.
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Full fee £99.00 Senior fee £99.00 Concession £64.00

Course Code: HCC09

Thu, eve, 02 Nov - 07 Dec '23

Duration: 6 sessions (over 6 weeks)

Please note: We offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. Just visit our online Help Center for more information on a range of topics including fees, online learning and FAQs.

What is the course about?

This online culture course explores the emerging cultural scene in 1980s New York that saw street artists like Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat collaborating with musicians, theatre makers, the underground club scene and other creatives.
We will explore this vibrant and chaotic time of cross-cultural collaboration and explore the role that venues, politicians, and even city zoning laws played in the birth and collapse of this fertile artistic moment. We will analyse music scenes including punk and hip-hop, study Jenny Livingston’s film, Paris is Burning (1990), and explore key historical moments, most notably the role of the AIDS crisis in the political and artistic response of queer communities in 80s New York.

This course will explore this cataclysmic moment in culture, where new attitudes, identities and forms of media led to a powder keg of creativity in Manhattan, Brooklyn and their surrounding environs, giving a thorough insight into the phenomenon that essayist Frank Bruni describes below:
“Decades are like people, some take up more oxygen than others. The 1980s were that way, most notably at the start and especially in New York City … People lived louder and larger than they had just years before”.

What will we cover?

Each week will be themed to different movements and artists from the period based on a key theme:

• Keith Haring – The Poster Boy of Street Art
• Music Scenes – Hip Hop meets Punk meets Disco – Blondie, Patti Smith, Grandmaster Flash, Paradise Garage
• The Art of Clubbing: Nightclub culture from Danceteria to the Mudd Club
• Act Up – Regan, Artists and the HIV epidemic
• Basquiat and Black Visual Artist in 80s New York
• Paris is Burning: Legacies of the 80s and Drag culture onscreen.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

• Identify key artistic and cultural movements in 80s New York.
• Have an understanding, and appreciation, of the cultural context which produced artistic scenes in 80s New York.
• Analyse different forms of media critically and analytically.
• Explore the varied representations of New York in 80s media.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

This course is for anyone who is interested in the subject. The course is suitable for all levels and you do not require any particular skills - just an enthusiasm for culture and a willingness to contribute to discussions. The course will provide an introduction to the subject but will also be useful for those wishing to build on existing knowledge in the subject area.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

The class will largely be taught through mini lectures, class discussions and group work. Any additional materials will be available to read prior to each decision.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

Extracts from films will be shown in class and any additional material needed will be available on Google Classroom.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

Look for other Culture and Film, TV and Media Studies courses under History Culture and Writing/Film Studies at

Megan Beech

Dr Megan Beech is a literature scholar and performance poet. She was the winner of the Poetry Society’s SLAMbassadors national youth slam in 2011. She has performed at venues including the Royal Albert Hall, Parliament, the Southbank Centre, Glastonbury Festival and Cheltenham Literature Festival. Her debut collection 'When I Grow Up I Want to be Mary Beard' was published in 2013, and her latest book 'You Sad Feminist' was released in 2017. Her poetry has featured on the Sky One's 'Russell Howard Hour' and the BBC iPlayer series ‘Women Who Spit'. She was featured in The Guardian lists of ‘inspiring young feminists in 2014’ and ‘Must Read Books of the Year 2014’ and Evening Standard's list of 'Ten 21st Century feminist icons'. She has recently finished a PhD at the University of Cambridge.

Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.