BHSU Geek Speak lecture addresses the rise and fall of American alternative rock

Author: BHSU Communications/Tuesday, March 31, 2015/Categories: 2015








           Dr. Dan May, assistant professor of mathematics at BHSU, delves into the rise and fall of American alternative rock during the next Geek Speak lecture Thursday, April 9 at 4 p.m. in room 110 of Jonas Hall on the BHSU campus.   



Black Hills State University assistant professor of mathematics, Dr. Dan May, will present the next Geek Speak lecture "Love Me I'm Rich: The Rise and Fall of American Alternative Rock" Thursday, April 9 at 4 p.m. in Jonas Hall room 110.  The lecture is free and open to the public.

May argues that the "sea change moment" of alternative music, when Nirvana&rsquos Nevermind overtook Michael Jackson on the Billboard charts, symbolized a rise in an already vibrant musical subculture.

"Why was it possible for an alternative band like Nirvana to apparently come out of nowhere to commercial and critical success? Their rise seemed surprising but there were forces and historical factors leading to that moment," says May.

Those factors, according to May, include an up-tick in smaller record labels and less expensive technology in the 1980s making it possible for bands to exist outside the major recording music industry.

Momentum continued to build with college radio stations starting to play the music, which May says gave alternative music more commercial viability.  

"The music starts to change because at that point bands aren&rsquot necessarily coming from grassroots, fan-based experience, but rather from top-down, money-driven means," says May.

Alternative music&rsquos fall occurred, according to May, when rock music becomes aggressively masculine (Limp Bizkit and Korn), Nirvana&rsquos Kurt Cobain commits suicide, and Napster causes a decline in CD sales.

May&rsquos lecture will feature music from several groups from alternative rock&rsquos independent music scene including The Replacements, Dinosaur Junior, and H&uumlsker D&uuml.

The Geek Speak lecture series, sponsored by the BHSU University Honors program, features academic discussion and topics not normally discussed in the traditional classroom. The goal of the weekly lectures is to expose students to diversity within the disciplines.

For more information on Geek Speak, contact Dr. Courtney Huse-Wika, assistant professor of English and director of University Honors at or 605-642-6918.

Upcoming Geek Speak topics include:

April 16: Dr. Aris Karagiorgakis: "The Truth is in Here: Why 12 Million Americans Believe Lizard People Run the Country (and other "crazy" conspiracies)"

April 23: John Ginther: "Don&rsquot Hate the Player, Hate the Game"

May 5 and May 7: The Defense (Capstone defense for University Honors seniors)

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