Edited by conference director Scott Calhoun and with a foreword by Anthony DeCurtis, Exploring U2 contains selections from the 2009 inaugural meeting of the U2 Conference.

In keeping with U2’s own efforts to remove barriers that have long-prevented dialogue for understanding and improving the human experience, this collection of new essays examines U2 from perspectives ranging from the personal to the academic, and is accessible to curious music fans, students, teachers and scholars alike.

Four sections organize sixteen essays from leading academics, music critics, clergy and fans. From the disciplines of literature, music, philosophy, psychology and theology, essays study U2’s role in developing their listeners’  concepts of personhood and identity; U2’s evolving use of source material in live performances; the layering of vocal effects in some of U2’s signature songs; the crafting of a spiritual community at concerts; U2’s success as a business brand; Bono’s rhetorical presentation of Africa to the Western consumer; and readings of U2’s work for intertexts, spiritual statements, irony, conservatism and hope in space and time.

Official band biographer Neil McCormick presents U2 as a “Dublin-shaped” band, and for the first time in print, Danielle Rhéaume writes on how discovering and returning Bono’s lost briefcase of lyrics for the October album propelled her along her own artistic journey.

This thoughtful and timely collection recognizes U2’s music both as its own art and as commenting on personal journeys and cultural dialogues surrounding contemporary issues. It offers insights and critical assessments that will appeal to scholars and students of popular music and culture studies, those in the fields of theology, philosophy, the performing arts and literature, and all intellectually curious fans of U2.

Available at Amazon and from Roman & Littlefield.

Table of Contents

Foreword: U2: Contents and Discontents
Anthony DeCurtis


Scott Calhoun

Section I: Eighteen Years of Dawning

1. Boy to Man: A Dublin-Shaped Band
Neil McCormick

2. My Voyage of Discovery: Returning October’s Lost Lyrics
Danielle Rhéaume

3. Potent Crossroads: Where U2 and Progressive Awareness Meet
Rachel E. Seiler

4. The Authentic Self in Paul Ricoeur and U2
Jeffrey F. Keuss and Sara Koenig

Section II: Don’t Expect, Suggest

5. Vocal Layering as Deconstruction and Reinvention in U2
Christopher Endrinal

6. “Bullet The Blue Sky” As An Evolving Performance
Steve Taylor

7. U2: An Elevated Brand
Michele O’Brien

8. Nothing Succeeds Like Failure: U2 and the Politics of Irony
Kevin J. H. Dettmar

Section III: Take This Soul

9. Playing the Tart: Contexts and Intertexts For “Until the End of the World”
Daniel T. Kline

10. Where Leitourgia Has No Name: U2 Live
Beth Maynard

11. Bono v. Nick Cave Re: Jesus
Greg Clarke

12. Fallen Angels in the Hands of U2
Deane Galbraith

Section IV: When I Look At The World

13. Bono’s Rhetoric Of The Auspicious: Translating and Transforming Africa for the Consumerist West
Bruce L. Edwards

14. Boy, Baby & Bomb: U2’s Use of Anti-Language
John Hurtgen

15. All That We Can’t Leave Behind: U2’s Conservative Voice
Stephen Catanzarite

16. Across the Universe: U2’s Hope in Space and Time
Scott Calhoun

Bibliography for U2 Studies


Song Index

About the Contributors

The U2 Conference logo and branding images by Beth Nabi.