Viva Rockotitlan: Rock and Roll Countercultures in Mexico

SPN 379: Viva Rockotitlán: Rock ‘n’ Roll Countercultures in Mexico


Instructor:                  Dr. Brian L. Price (

Office:                          550 Greene Hall

Phone:                        758-4572

Office Hours:             WF 2:00 AM – 3:30 PM

Sec. A:                         WF 12:30 – 1:45 PM, 245 Greene Hall


Course Description

Since the 1950s rock and roll—first Anglo-American and later more autochthonous variants—have played a major part in the formation of adolescent countercultures in Mexico. As a musical manifestation of larger social movements developed in opposition to the hegemonic power of the single-party state, rock offered young people an alternative to folkloric institutions and the post-revolutionary familial metaphors that had become deeply embedded in political and social discourse since the 1920s. Cultural institutions like the film and literary industries quickly tuned in to this new sensibility and began producing works that spoke to the concerns of young consumers. The study of rock music and its literary and filmic manifestations then allows us insights into the participating of young people in important social events like the student movement of the 1960s, the mobilization of large swaths of the populace following the 1985 earthquake, the criticisms of neoliberal economic transformations throughout the 1980s and 1990s, and present concerns about governmental inefficiency and the violence associated with drug trafficking.

This course examines manifestations of rock and roll counterculture in literature, film, and music in Mexico from the 1960s to the present. It traces the ebb and flow of these representations as authors employ rock and roll for a variety of ideological and aesthetic projects. The first section of the course covers the enthusiasm of young writers and filmmakers in the 1950s and 1960s to incorporate music into their adolescent-targeted projects. The second section will begin with a discussion of the Avándaro music festival, Mexico’s Woodstock, and the immediate governmental repression that was brought to bear against rock countercultures. The third section will discuss the nostalgic use of rock music during the 1980s as baby boomers who think about the failures of the Latin American left use music to reflect upon their lost utopian dreams. The fourth section will consider the 1990s, a period when authors split into two camps: those who withdraw from the rock and roll, preferring instead to turn their attention to more traditional musical forms like the corrido; and those who adopt a techno or punk aesthetic. The final section of the course will tackle the most recent publications and films by Generation X authors. Primary texts will include novels, short stories, poetry, films, essays, songs, and rock journalism, while secondary texts will rely heavily on cultural studies. Below you will find a preliminary outline of the projected course trajectory followed by an additional, if partial, bibliography of primary and secondary sources.

Reading Schedule

** This reading schedule is subject to change. As a general rule I will adhere to what we have listed here, but I reserve the right to modify the content according to opportunity and necessity.

Semana 1. Rock ‘N’ Roll, Cultural Studies, and Mexican Nationalism

Date Discussion in class
16 ene. Introduction to the course
18 ene. Greenblatt. “Culture.” Critical Terms for Literary Studies.Hebdige. “Introduction” and Ch.1, Subculture.

Zolov. “Introduction.” Refried Elvis.

Agustín. “Contracultura.”

Semana 2. Early Rock Films

23 ene. Listen Rockotitlán 1950sZolov. Refried Elvis. Ch. 1

Agustín. “Prólogo” & “Burbujeando bajo la superficie” (LCM)

Watch Los chiflados del rock and roll.

25 ene. Zolov. Refried Elvis. Ch. 2Agustín. Ch. 2, “Rocanrol y rebeldes sin causa” (LCM)

Watch La locura del rock and roll

Semana 3. La Onda

30 ene. Listen to Rockotitlán 1960s.Zolov. Refried Elvis. Ch. 3

José Agustín. La nueva música clásica (1968)

1 feb. La nueva música clásica (con’t)José Agustín. “Cual es la onda”, Inventando que sueño (1968)

Agustín, “La onda” (LCM)

Semana 4. La Onda

6 feb. José Agustín. “Cual es la onda”, Inventando que sueño (1968)
8 feb. Zolov. Refried Elvis. Ch. 4Agustín. “Parménides García Saldaña” (LCM)

Watch King Creole.

Parménides García Saldaña. “El rey criollo,” El rey criollo (1968).


Semana 5. Mexico’s Woodstock

13 feb. Zolov Refried Elvis. Ch. 5Watch Jaime Humberto Hermosillo. La verdadera vocación de Magdalena (1972).
15 feb. Zolov. Refried Elvis. Ch. 6.Watch Jaime Humberto Hermosillo. La verdadera vocación de Magdalena (1972).


Semana 6. Professor out of town for conference travel. Students to work on Literature Project.


Semana 7. The Post-Avándaro Nationalist Reaction.

27 feb. Listen to Rockotitlán 1970s.Agustín, Ch. 5 “Jipitecas” (LCM)

Carlos Monsiváis. “La naturaleza de la Onda.” Amor perdido.

Turn in Literature Project

1 mar.



Semana 8. Juan Villoro and 1980s nostalgia

6 mar. Listen Rockotitlán 1980s.Juan Villoro. Tiempo transcurrido.
8 mar. Juan Villoro. Tiempo transcurrido.

Semana 9. Spring Break


Semana 10. Rock en tu idioma & Guacarrock

20 mar. Readings on Rock en tu idioma (TBA)
22 mar. Discussion of Botellita de Jerez and naco culture

Turn in Music Project

Semana 11. Rock Radio in Mexico City & the Early Years of Neoliberalism

27 mar. Agustín, “El lado oscuro de la luna” (LCM)Selected readings on Rock 101 & Radio Alicia (TBA)

Discuss Juan Carlos de Llaca, En el aire.

29 mar. Discuss Juan Carlos de Llaca, En el aire.

Semana 12. Molotov y Café Tacvba

3 apr. Listen to Rockotitlán 1990s.Watch Seguir siendo (2010).
5 apr. Watch Gimme the Power (2012).

Semana 13. Tijuana and Anti-Rock Lit

10 apr. Luis Humberto Crosthwaite. “La conversión de San Luisumberto.”Luis Humberto Crosthwaite. Idos de la mente (2001). Part I.
12 apr. Luis Humberto Crosthwaite. Idos de la mente (2001).  Part II.

Turn in Film Project

Semana 14. The State of Mexican Rock Today

17 apr. Luis Humberto Crosthwaite. Idos de la mente (2001).  Part III.
19 apr. Selected readings from contemporary rock journalists (TBA).


Semana 15. Generation X

24 apr. Arturo J. Flores. Provocaré un diluvio (selections).
26 apr. Gerardo Naranjo. Voy a explotar (2008).

Semana 16. Examen final.

Online Video Resources

Avándaro videos.

More to come…

Online Article Resources

Wikipedia. “Rock Music.”

Wikipedia. “Rock en tu idioma.”

Wikipedia. “Rock en México.”

Wikipedia. “Rock 101.”

More to come…


Class Policies and Grading

Participation:             10%. This is a discussion-based course: your active, informed, and thoughtful participation are requisite to performing well. 
Film project:  18%. We will watch a number of films throughout the semester for class discussion. In addition to those, you will be required to watch two additional films and write a short paper (3-4 pages). Project details to follow. Date TBA 
Music project: 18%. This semester you will exercise your faculties as a music critic by writing an insightful, informed review of a Mexican rock album (4 pages).  Project details to follow. Date TBA 
Literature project:


Details and date TBA. 
Midterm Exam:  18%. The midterm is scheduled for Thursday, 8 March 2012. It will cover the first half of our readings.


Final Exam: 18%. By midnight on Friday, May 4, VIA EMAIL no less than 8 and no more than 10 pages. Text and topic must have been approved by Professor Price during the stages of development. 


Attendance and Timeliness Policy. My philosophy for attendance and timeliness is fairly straightforward. You demonstrate respect and consideration for your professor and classmates by being in class and being in class on time. As such, the absence policy is simple. You are allowed two absences, no questions asked; after that each absence—regardless of reason—will lower your final grade by 5 percentage points. The tardy policy is similar. You are allowed two “freebies” and after that each tardy (or early departure from class) will lower your final grade by 1 percentage point.

Grading Policy According to the WFU Bulletin:

A’s are reserved only for exceptionally high achievement

A-/B+/B are all superior

B-/C+/C are satisfactory and

C-/D+/D/D- are passing but unsatisfactory

The grading scale:    

94-100=A, 90-93=A-, 88-9=B+, 83-87=B, 80-82=B-, 78-9=C+, 73-77=C, 70-72=C-, 68-9=D+, 60-67=D, 0-60=F.


Honor System (definition in the WFU Bulletin)

Wake Forest University upholds the ideals of honor and integrity. The Honor System is central to University life; its essence is a commitment by each person to do what is right and abide by community standards. Each student is pledged to be trustworthy in all matters, and a violation of that trust is an offense against the community as a whole. In the specific terms of the Honor Code, a student pledges in all phases of life not to cheat, plagiarize, engage in other forms of academic misconduct, deceive, or steal. The strength of the Honor System derives from the commitment of each and every student to uphold its ideals.

Honor Code As It Applies To This Course

Any written work turned in for a grade must be your own individual work, and any sign of collaboration, plagiarism, or other unauthorized assistance will be regarded as cheating and may be turned to the Judicial Council for investigation. You may receive no help (no tutors, no friends, no translators [human, machine, or web-based]) in the preparation of your compositions or other written work. The ideas and the language must all be your own. If you are unacquainted with the exact meaning of plagiarism or have any doubts about the materials you are using, do not hesitate to ask me.

Plagiarism is academic theft. It refers to the use of another’s ideas or words without proper attribution or credit. An author’s work, either published in the traditional manner or posted in the Internet, is his/her property and should be respected by documentation. Credit must be given:

1. For every direct quotation (even if you are translating it or changing a couple of words).

2. When a work is paraphrased or summarized in whole or in part in your own words.

3.  For information which is not common knowledge.

See /major/academicwriting.html for more information about paper writing and a good, clear definition of plagiarism.

Romance Languages Department Guidelines for tutors (or other help).

  • In general terms, tutors should explain questions and problems and guide students’ work. They should not do the work for the students; nor should they translate (or encourage translation of) the material into English or from English.
  • Essays (“ensayos/trabajos escritos”) should be written completely by the student. By that we mean that students cannot consult with anyone about that assignment. Those essays should reflect what students have learned in class. To write them with the help of the tutor will not allow determining what students have learned on their own and how they are able to apply it.  Since we clearly specify that the work needs to be the student’s and no one else’s, the help of the tutor in those assignments will constitute an infraction of the honor code.