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NYC Subcultures and Scenes: Home

A guide for students and researchers interested in the study of NYC Subcultures and Scenes



This is a selective guide to some of the resources available for researching New York City Subcultures and Scenes. This page will be your gateway to books, journal articles, and web resources. 

Here are a few other subject guides that will be of interest to you:

Avery Fisher Center

The Avery Fisher Center for Music and Media (AFC) is located on the 2nd floor of Bobst Library. Our collections include over 28,000 videos (with U.S. and foreign cinema, drama and music performances, documentaries, art films, and more) and over 76,000 sound recordings (featuring music from a broad spectrum of classical, traditional, and popular artists and genres, from throughout the world and across history). Our viewing and listening facilities support a variety of analog and digital formats.  Here is just a sampling of the films documenting subcultures that are available at the AFC:


So, What is a Subculture Anyway?

Skateboarders. Goths. Club kids. Punks. Steampunks. Beats. Breakdancers. Hip Hop Heads. Deadheads. Phishheads. Slam poets. Jedis in Washington Square Park...just to name a few!

Subcultures are everywhere--some are more visible than others. But what is a subcutlure? What are we talking about? Here's the Oxford English Dictionary definition: 

Subculture: an identifiable subgroup within a society or group of people, especially one characterized by beliefs or interests at variance with those of the larger group; the distinctive ideas, practices, or way of life of such a subgroup.


NYU Special Collections

Looking for primary sources for your research? Try the Fales Library & Special Collections here at Bobst! For example:

The Riot Grrrl Collection is an attempt to document the evolution of the Riot Grrrl movement, particularly in the years between 1989 and 1996. Because Riot Grrrl was (and is) both a political and a cultural movement, its output was diverse, including writing, music, performance, film, activism, photography, video, and original art, as well as documentation of activism and performance. This research collection will provide primary resources for scholars who are interested in feminism, punk activism, queer theory, gender theory, DIY culture, and music history.


The Downtown Collection, which began in 1993, is an attempt to document the downtown arts scene that evolved in SoHo and the Lower East Side during the 1970s through the early 1990s.  During this time, an explosion of artistic creativity radically challenged and changed tradition literature, music, theater, performance, film, activism, dance, photography, video, and other art practices.

The Downtown Collection includes the personal papers of artists, filmmakers, writers and performers; archives of art galleries, theatre groups, and art collectives; and collections relating to AIDS activism and off-off- Broadway theater.

Reference Associate

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Laurie Murphy
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