About the Book

U2’s ongoing popular appeal is constructed in the spaces between band and fan, commercialism and community, spirituality and nihilism; finding meaning in a surface-oriented popular culture and contradiction in the depths of political and faith-based institutions. The band’s long term success and continued relevance is a result of their ability to hold these energies in tension without one subsuming the other—to live in the liminal space that such contradictions invite. U2’s fan-band trajectory is a new myth for the whole world, found in the most unlikely of places: popular culture.

 

Our approach to exploring the U2 mythos as aca-fans includes narrative turns highlighting the more personal relationship most of us have with (popular) media and culture. Drawing heavily upon the works of Joseph Campbell, Carl Jung, Marshal McLuhan, Thomas S. Frentz, and Janice Hocker Rushing, we unpack U2’s popular appeal through the lenses of Agape (spiritual, communal love), Amor (romantic love), and Eros (erotic love).

Chapter One: Introduction

Chapter Two: Love and Liminality 

Part I: Agape

Chapter Three: Archetypal Foundations of the "Holy" Community

Chapter Four: Call to Action

Part II: Amor

Chapter Five: Into the Labyrinth

Chapter Six: Mythic Trajectory and the Overdeveloped Shadow

Part III: Eros

Chapter Seven: Into the "Heart"

Chapter Eight: Integrations and the Return: "Songs of Innocence + Experience" Tour

Chapter Nine: Love, Liminality, and the Transmodern Rock Star

About the Authors

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Brian Johnston

Miami University

I am a teacher-scholar in the field of Communication Studies, specializing in rhetorical and (auto)ethnographic approaches to the study of media and media audiences, organizational cultures,, and identity markers. I am also proud to serve as faculty adviser and coach for Miami University's debate team. 

Personal transformation and social justice through communication practices are two themes that permeate both my teaching and research activities. Opportunities for positive social change are all around us--all we need do is open our eyes and hearts and, when necessary, take risks.

As a basic course director at Indiana State University I launched an open education resource (free) textbook that saves $500-k in annual student costs, strengthens academic freedom and facilitates collaborative teaching-learning practices. Open Resources have a promising and sustainable future in higher education and I am thrilled to be on the forefront of developing these education-as-social justice platforms. 

My PhD is from the University of South Florida, and my M.A. is from the  University of Arkansas--Go Hogs! I teach courses ranging from media studies,  media criticism, and persuasion to qualitative research methods, interpersonal relationships, and professional communication for business. 

I am a devoted father of three children. I enjoy hiking, photography, and my newly discovered passion for carpentry. 

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Susan Mackey-Kallis

Villanova University

My PhD is from Penn State and my teaching and research are in the areas of political communication and rhetorical criticism of film, media, and popular culture.

 

I authored two books on film, Oliver Stone’s America: Dreaming the Myth Outward (1996, Westview/Harper Collins) and The Hero and the Perennial Journey Home in American Film (2001, University of Pennsylvania Press). I have also published journal articles and book chapters on such topics as presidential administrations’ drug rhetoric, political campaign films, digital gaming, social media, and advertising and have served on the editorial board for a number of national and regional journals including Communication Quarterly, Communication Education, Communication Research Reports, and Qualitative Research Reports in Communication. I often speak about American film and politics, mass and social media, and pop culture and I am a huge fan of directors Wes Anderson, the Coen Brothers, Alfred Hitchcock, and P. T. Anderson and musical artists such as U2, Big Head Todd and the Monsters, and Radiohead.

 

I am married with two teenage boys, Alexander and William, and I live in West Chester, PA, where I love to canoe down the Brandywine River with our dogs. I travel frequently to Greece to visit friends and family and maintain an active interest in all things Hellenic!