Call for Presentations
"Heartland: U2’s Looking For American Soul"
An International Virtual U2 Conference For Scholars And Fans
October 18 – 24, 2020
U2 has journeyed – at times uneasily – through an America of pulsating metropolis, rugged heartland and shining sea. It long ago fell under the spell of America, but for just as long has felt it still hasn’t found America.
When U2 talks about America, it often describes it in terms of an idea, a dream or an experiment rather than a physical reality. Bono sings in “American Soul” (ft. Kendrick Lamar) on Songs of Experience: "It’s not a place / This country is to me a sound / Of drum and bass. … It’s not a place / This country is to me a thought / That offers grace / For every welcome that is sought."
As U2 performed in front of the Lincoln Memorial at President Obama’s inauguration celebration, an election Bono declared to be Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream coming to pass, Canadian writer Randy Boyagoda was examining Salman Rushdie’s fiction as a space that “seeks to imagine America as embodying a set of practices. This is an extraterritorial gesture that playfully dismisses organic connections between identity, place, and history” (Race, Immigration, and American Identity in the Fiction of Salman Rushdie, Ralph Ellison, and William Faulkner. Routledge, 2010, 23). U2 and Rushdie have a history of artistic dialogue, with an affinity for the performed, provocative gesture, so it’s not surprising that ten years after dedicating “Pride (In the Name of Love)” to usher in the Obama era, U2 again sought space for a statement at the outset of President Trump’s term in office with American Soul.
U2 loves, lives in and leverages America, all while feeling free to critique, correct and create America. We invite fans, students and scholars to a week of online conversations and critical inquiry into U2’s complicated history of looking for American soul. We’ll be planning multiple formats for attendees to engage in presentations, connect with each other and enjoy the conference community at different times throughout the week.
Please see our Call for Presentations, Call for Fan Participation, and list of conference coordinators at U2conference.com
We hope you’ll join us as we examine U2’s place, space and sound in the American experiment.