Myth, Fan Culture, and the Popular Appeal of Liminality
in the Music of u2: A Love Story
Brian Johnston and Susan Mackey-Kallis
(Lexington Books, 2019)
Now available in Paperback!
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
Brian Johnston, Assistant Professor
Glenville State University
I am a teacher-scholar in the field of Communication Studies for the Department of Language & Literature at Glenville State University. I specialize in rhetorical and (auto)ethnographic
approaches to the study of media and media audiences, organizational cultures,, and identity markers.
Personal transformation and social justice 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 $1-million across at least two universities 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 in media studies, media criticism, persuasion, research methods, public speaking, forensics, interpersonal relationships, and advanced writing for media and business.
I absolutely adore and love my three children, and cherish every moment we get to have together, from our local library to backyard football and whiffle ball and riffing bad movies. I enjoy hiking, sports, photography, making documentaries, and carpentry.
Susan Mackey Kallis,
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!