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  • Saturday, April 1, 2017
  • 4:00 PM–5:15 PM
  • CFAC 227

Music for the Kitchen Sink: The Smiths, Class Warfare, and the Other

Although Morrissey’s public persona and relationship with the press are often characterized by arrogance, flippancy, and churlishness, the lyrics he pens tell a different story. The Smiths’ entire body of work, as well as Morrissey’s solo efforts, are primers of radical, empathetic identification with the “other.” Through semiotic readings of videos and a close discussion of lyrics, fashion, and cultural influences (including British “kitchen sink” drama), we will discuss how the seemingly narcissistic crooning of a working class icon cum Byronic hero actually challenges us to identify with the oppressed, abused, and isolated.  The prophetic critique contained in this music satirizes and condemns the damaging effects of a rigid class system, as well as a music industry based on a lust for consumption rather than a love of art.

Mary McCampbell is an associate professor of humanities at Lee University. A native Memphian, she completed a doctorate at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne (UK) where her dissertation focused on the relationship between blank fiction (authors Douglas Coupland, Bret Easton Ellis, Chuck Palahniuk), late capitalist culture, and the religious impulse. She has multiple academic publications on these topics, and is currently working on a book titled Postmodern Prophetic: The Religious Impulse in Contemporary Fiction. McCampbell has also written various pieces on film and popular music for Christ and Pop Culture, The Curator, Relief Journal and Identity Theory. She was the Summer 2014 “Writer in Residence” at L’Abri Fellowship in Greatham, England.

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