Archive | Conference / Meeting

“U2 and The Beatles” Session at the PCA/ACA National Conference 2016

If you’ll be at the PCA/ACA national conference in Seattle March 22-25, 2016, you might want to catch “’Taking on the Shape of Someone Else’s Pain’: U2 and Irish Postmemory” by Jason Cash of Southwestern Oklahoma State University, on Tuesday, March 22, 1:15 p.m.2:45 p.m. 

From the description page:

Two songs on U2’s 2014 album Songs of Innocence, “Raised by Wolves” and “The Troubles,” return directly and indirectly to the band’s signficant engagement with Irish politics and violence. These songs explore the complex experience of historical trauma both as an observer and as a people steeped in a storytelling culture that celebrates and condemns militaristic nationalism, often at the same time. Using Marianne Hirsch’s concept of postmemory, a term she has used to describe the transmission of memories from survivors of the Holocaust to their children, this paper will argue that U2’s challenge and rejection of this process in popular media ensures that postmemory will continue. This paradox sheds light on the difficulty and the importance of reassessing inherited narratives continuously, a project with particular resonance for a band as self-aware as U2 and for a nation whose identity is as defined by storytelling as Ireland.

Cash’s presentation is the only one on U2, while there are three more on The Beatles. The full panel presentations are listed here.

Conference: Bridging Gaps: What are the media, publicists, and celebrities selling?

This conference of The Centre for Media and Celebrity Studies in Barcelona, Spain, July 3 – 5, 2016, might be of interest to scholars working in the field of U2 studies.

The deadline for presentation proposals has passed and there’s no program posted yet to see if Bono or U2 will be a topic of conversation, but if they are, it could likely be at a roundtable discussion at the conference on “Celebrity Activism” with Dr. Nathan Farrell and Dr. Jackie Raphael on July 4, 2016

See the conference website for more information and to watch for a program to be posted.

Engaging with Bono’s “Little book” at Fandom and Religion Conference, Leicester, UK, July 28-30, 2015

Bono described what he was thinking when he pressed “go” to publish his Little book of a big year, but what was he actually doing? More extensively and intimately engaging with fans than he had done for a long time, the little book makes interesting reading across many issues. I will be exploring issues of meaning making in a paper presentation at the Fandom and Religion Conference, University of Leicester, UK. In particular, I will briefly approach Bono’s presentation of himself, his beliefs and understanding of fandom, whilst linking his Little book to other discourses. In my analysis, I will apply the concepts of Sensemaking and Sensegiving. For those interested, I have included the longer abstract below.

I’m delighted to be presenting in the same session as Dr. Scott Calhoun, whose presentation is titled “Ecce Bono: Celebrity Status After 33.” – really looking forward to hearing that!

Abstract

“F is for Fans… J is for Jesus: Making sense of Bono’s big year”

Dr. Chris Wales

“It’s January 1, 8 p.m. I nearly didn’t press go on this, and I am clearly delirious in places. It’s very personal, but I feel in not a corny way that U2 has a very intimate relationship with our audience … so I’m going for it.”

“Little book of a big year: Bono’s A to Z of 2014”, U2.com, 2015

No strangers to fandom and anti-fandom, in 2014 Bono placed U2 once again in what he likes to describe as “right in the centre of a contradiction” with the “controversial” U2/Apple album release that intended to reach instantly a wider audience. A few months later, as 2015 began, he published a “little book” on U2´s official website, seemingly one of his most intimately direct, although asymmetric, communications with fans. I will review and analyse this personal ‘treatise’ and the events leading up to and around it, showing the way it directly and indirectly addresses issues relating to unity, fandom, activism and religious tolerance, whilst explaining the relevance of music and message, aimed at deepening understanding of the U2 mind-set. Bono’s communication is analysed as an act of sensemaking (Weick, 1995) and sensegiving (Gioia & Chittipeddi, 1991), theoretical constructs thought pertinent to understanding the band´s internal and external meaning making. The paper explores how alongside the increasing growth and diversity of their fan-base, U2 has engaged with the varying interpretations and expectations placed upon them, especially concerning issues of belief. The search for ultimate validation is linked to musical authenticity (Pattie, 1999), rather than promotion of celebrity, aligned to the band’s self-claimed constant and driving desire to produce authentic and relevant music, built on deep, intimate audience engagement, while embracing controversial issues such as faith and conviction. Further analysis considers how this ‘intimate’ form of communication might be understood as “authentic” or “performed” (Marwick and Boyd 2011; Bennett 2012).

Contributor:
Chris Wales
Contact:
chris.wales@nla.no

“Ecce Bono: Celebrity Status After 33” Presentation at Fandom and Religion Conference, July 28-30, 2015

I’ve been looking forward to attending the Fandom and Religion Conference at the University of Leicester for months, and in a few more weeks I’ll be finally be there from July 28-30, taking in a great program of speakers and seminars, all organized by Dr. Clive Marsh as a part of the Theology, Religion, and Popular Culture Network at U of Leicester. I’ll be learning from everyone on the program and surely I’ll strike up some new friendships; I’ll even be presenting a paper and chairing a session too.

As a major gathering of leading theorists, scholars, practitioners, and students, the conference will explore interactions between religion and popular culture. How does fandom work? What is happening to fans as they express their enthusiasms and allegiances? Has fandom replaced or become a form of religion? What can the study of religion learn from explorations of fandom?

I’ll be presenting Wednesday, July 29, in a session with two papers on U2. One will be from my colleague Dr. Chris Wales, of NLA Høgskolen, who presented at the 2013 U2 Conference and published “Collaborative Transactions: Making Sense (Again) for U2’s Achtung Baby” in U2 Above, Across, and Beyond (Lexington, 2014). Dr. Wales’ presentation is “F is for Fans … J is for Jesus: Making Sense of Bono’s Big Year.”

My presentation is titled “Ecce Bono: Celebrity Status After 33.”  Here’s the abstract for my presentation:

“Dressing like your sister / Living like a tart /
They don’t know what you’re doing / Babe it must be art / ….
They want you to play Jesus / They’ll go down on one knee /
But they’ll want their money back if you’re alive at 33 /
And you’re turning tricks / With your crucifix / You’re a star”

“Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me,” U2 (1993/95)

When Bono was 33 in 1993, he had already disappointed many of the devout U2 fans the band had acquired in the 1980s. Having taken to heart the Irish poet Brendan Kennelly’s Judas-haunted aphorism, “If you want to serve the age, betray it,” Bono had “tarted up” the persona he had developed in the previous decade for U2’s revolutionary Zoo TV tour, and he was well on his way to disappointing more fans in the future with a vigorous commitment to avoiding the trap of typecasting. Now at the un-messianic age of 55, Bono has become expert at attracting, exciting, and repelling the masses, forcing the fan-celebrity dynamic into an ever evolving process of redefinition as both he and U2’s fandom ages. Behold Bono! I will examine Bono’s public acts as a singer, performer, and advocate as they have become intertwined with his status as a rock star for what they reveal as running through the heart of U2 fandom when evaluated against some fans’ specific expectations of celebrity-leadership, particularly among those who identify as having strong religious commitments. Paradoxically, as Bono has successfully avoided typecasting, he has moved closer to archetypes, most obviously the rock star-humanitarian. But in light of Bono’s overarching role as an artist, and especially since he is self-identifying as an artist on U2’s current tour, I will argue for our attention to be focused on his arguably greater feat of successfully enacting a palate of multiple and contradictory types to become, himself, a work of art that resists easy, monological interpretation, eschewing fans’ singular devotion to himself. In doing so, he is not only closer to the archetypal artist fulfilling the archetypal function of art, but is, ironically, performing a primary role of the archetypal savior by reorienting the adoration of fans who would follow him and frustrating them into synthesizing an authentic, liberating fandom of their own, imbued with a more realized sense of self and a more realized sense of the other. Behold Bono indeed. He’s a star.

If you’re still awake and want a little more detail on my talk, as I conduct my examination and argument, I’ll cover these topics:

  • A brief survey of types Bono performed in the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s
  • monologism vs. dialogism
  • Fandom formation and appropriation theories
  • Complicating factors in U2 fandom within the American Evangelical Christian community, starting with the 2003 critique called “Bono’s Thin Ecclesiology” up to U2’s recent support of civil marriage rights for same-sex couples in Ireland and the United States
  • The functions and conditions of art and archetypes

And finally, the session I’m chairing is music focused and looks great with these presentations:

  • Len Cazaly: “’You got a lotta nerve to say you are my friend’: Dylan v. The Fans”
  • Dr. Wendy Fonarow: “The Purists: How Indie Music Expresses Puritan Dogma”
  • Felix Papenhagen: “Jewish Religiosity in the Context of Popular Music in Israel”

I’d love to see you at the conference. You can register here.

Contributor:
Scott Calhoun
Contact:
calhouns@cedarville.edu

U2 Conference logo and site design by Beth Nabi.