Contemporaries

University of Cambridge Contemporary Research Group

Here by the sea and sand: A symposium on Quadrophenia CALL FOR PAPERS

quadHere by the sea and sand: A symposium on Quadrophenia

 Sponsored by the Centre for Modernist Studies, University of Sussex

 Falmer, Brighton

 11 July 2014

 Keynote Speaker: James Wood (Harvard University, The New Yorker)

 “I don’t want to be the same as everyone else. That’s why I’m a mod, see?”

Released 40 years ago in 1973, The Who’s ambitious concept album Quadrophenia portrays the 1964 August bank holiday battle between mods and rockers on Brighton beach from the perspective of the young disillusioned pill-popping mod protagonist, Jimmy. Franc Roddam’s iconic film of the album was made in 1979, and in the past year the Who has toured playing the entire album. Quadrophenia, the album, was a comparative failure when released, but has since been recognised by many critics as their masterpiece. Quadrophenia is a complex and multilayered work, combining some of the Who’s most arresting music with a variety of other art forms (Townshend’s story in the liner notes, Ethan Russell’s compelling book of photographs). It is embedded in two sites, London and Brighton, as well as in many more personal and political histories.

The Centre for Modernist Studies at Sussex has decided to live up to its name by holding a one-day symposium on the album and film. Quadrophenia fans, please consider joining us.

Possible topics include but are not limited to: the representation of Mods; Mod revival(s) and nostalgia; Englishness; class; violence; crowds; work; adolescence; masculinity; the relationship between the film and the album; the concept/double album; the accompanying book of photographs and Townshend’s text; influences; legacies; Quadrophenia as rock opera; Quadrophenia in the Who’s oeuvre; the self-conscious representation of the Who’s history; the performance of it in the current moment; pills; punks; godfathers; sea; sand; rain; bellboys.

Paper proposals that mix personal with critical, historical, musicological, or cultural-studies analyses are welcome.

Please send short (300-500 word) proposals for 15-20 minute papers and a short bio of yourself to Pam Thurschwell, p.thurschwell@sussex.ac.uk by 1 December 2013.

1 Comment

  1. I’d like to know what brought you to the conclusion that when Quad was released it was a comparative failure ?
    I purchased the album upon it’s release and all summer that year there had been great excitement amongst fans and indeed the weekly UK music press about it’s release, with several stories featuring the recording of the album, i remember reading how Pete Townshend had dropped a microphone into the river thames while recording sound effects, and in another article there were actual photos of the band at ramport studios where it was being recorded with One in particular of keith moon playing a large Paiste Gong . The UK Quadrophenia Tour was the most anticipated for a long time with approx 20,000 fans queing for tickets to see them at the Lyceum alone. And only 9,000 tickets were available.I was in that queue which started the night before the box office opened and it was already a half a mile long. The album got royal treatment from the record company as there were quite elaborate displays in most record shops that I went in, and though i don’t have all the
    figures , the album was in the top ten in every major UK record chart that I can remember including those of the weeklies.

    As for The album itself, it appealed to many as it had been a part of their lives already , or was being part of it in some way . eg, ‘The Girl I used to love, lives in this yellow house.yesterday she passed me by she does’nt wanna know me know ‘ how could you not relate to something like that ?

    The album spoke to generations of fans ,not only Mods, though they were a key element. The Riots were a symbol of what youth happen to do occasionally at those times, and such clashes were inevitable. Pete’s very brilliant writing brought back the history of some of UK youth life into perhaps the Who’s best album of all time.

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