Are You a Springsteen Fan?

If you love “The Boss” and are academically minded, you may be interested in the upcoming (Sept. 25-27) conference at Monmouth University: “Glory Days: A Bruce Springsteen Symposium.” This is a follow-up conference to the very successful Springsteen symposium that drew over 330 Springsteen scholars, journalists, musicians and fans to West Long Branch, NJ in 2005.

In addition to tours of Springsteen’s Asbury Park, the conference will feature 130 papers and presentations on everything from Springsteen and gender, pedagogy, religion, place, family, war, and class. I cannot make it to the event (I will be speaking at Ft. Ticonderoga that weekend), but I am disappointed I will be missing the presentations of two scheduled speakers: Jim Cullen and Louis Masur. I have never met either of these scholars, but have long admired their work.

I have been a fan of Cullen’s work since graduate school when I read his excellent The Civil War in Popular Culture . When I heard that he was writing a book on Springsteen I quickly ordered my copy of Born in the USA: Bruce Springsteen and the American Tradition. (Cullen’s analysis of Springsteen’s Catholicism is worth the price of the book). Since then I have enjoyed his books on the American Dream (a former student of mine recently told me that she read this book in her graduate program in American studies) and popular culture. If you can’t make it to the Jersey Shore next month to hear Cullen’s plenary address, you will want to go over to his blog, American History Now, and read some of his thoughts as he prepares the talk.

Masur holds a chair in American Studies at Trinity College in Hartford. He has written about baseball, the year 1831, capital punishment, and a famous American photograph. His new book is Runaway Dream: Born to Run and Bruce Springsteen’s American Vision. I am hoping that there will be some material in the book stemming from his 2005 article in the Chronicle Review in which he describes teaching Springsteen at Trinity. His description of dancing to “Born to Run” with a college freshman is priceless.

If any of my readers are heading to Jersey next month, drop me a note. Perhaps you might be willing to report on the event here at “The Way of Improvement Leads Home.”