JMC finalizes plans for new Rolling Stone course

Molly Spillman

With registration for Kent State’s upcoming fall semester starting Monday, the faculty of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication (JMC) are putting the final touches on the new Rolling Stone magazine course

The specialized, five-week course aims to educate students about the origins of Rolling Stone magazine and its different societal impacts over the years. The latest announcement came when Kent State publicized its partnership with Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Kent State: Rolling Stone course for the fall 2017 semester from on Vimeo.

“Having a relationship with the Rock Hall makes this a national class,” said JMC Director Thor Wasbotten. 

Announced less than a month ago, the course has received local media attention. News outlets like, the Record-Courier and Crains Cleveland Business magazine have all covered the debut of the class.

Students can expect to spend one of the five class sessions at the Rock Hall, which will have its own 50th anniversary Rolling Stone exhibit on display.

JMC faculty is also working to provide different guest lectures and speakers to visit Kent State to contribute to the course’s curriculum.

“Music, Movements and Media: Rolling Stone @ 50,” will be taught by Stephanie Smith, an assistant professor in JMC, who came up with this class through her love of the magazine.

“I’ve been a subscriber to the magazine for over 40 years,” Smith said. “I am completely faithful to it.”

One of the ways Rolling Stone is commemorating its 50th anniversary is by comparing different rock festivals over the years, which is what originally caught Smith’s eye.

“As I’m reading I’m thinking, ‘Why aren’t we doing something here?’” Smith said. “This is not only an iconic magazine, but … the birth of rock journalism … more importantly, it is the epicenter of music, media and social movements.”

In order to receive course acceptance, students must email Smith directly with a statement of why they want to be in the class.

Smith is interested in having Jacqueline Marino, an associate professor in JMC, lecture on her writings about Hunter S. Thompson, who is an iconic author and writer.

The class begins with examining the origins of the magazine, something Kamczyc said he thinks every student will learn a lot from.

The course plans to educate students on how Rolling Stone has shaped American life and the effects its in-depth reporting has had on society.

Smith cited pieces like the now-retracted “A Rape on Campus” article and the 2010 story that led to Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s resignation as crucial in shaping students’ view of journalism.

“I want them (students) to look at the authentic voices and writers who have been transformative in many phases of journalism at Rolling Stone,” Smith said. “I want them to examine the rewards, risks and implications of this cutting-edge, high-risk journalism style.”

Wasbotten anticipates the partnership with the Rock Hall and the demanding nature of the upcoming course will challenge JMC students in a new way.

“Smith is going to ensure that this class is rigorous and will create a deeper level of thinking than one might think if they’re just reading a Rolling Stone magazine,” Wasbotten said.

Registration preference will be given to JMC majors and minors with junior and senior class standing. 

Molly Spillman is the CCI reporter, contact her at [email protected].