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New on the curriculum: The Boss

All-Springsteen academic conference planned in (where else?) Jersey
/ Source: Reuters

“A Marxist Perspective on ’Darkness on the Edge of Town”’ and “The Boss and the Bible” are among the academic papers to be presented when a New Jersey university hosts an academic symposium devoted entirely to Bruce Springsteen.

More than 150 papers by academics from across the United States, Sweden, Canada, Italy and Britain will be presented at the symposium, dissecting everything from the singer’s patriotism to his ruminations of the working man.

Titled “Glory Days: A Bruce Springsteen Symposium,” the event will take place at Monmouth University in West Long Branch, New Jersey, from Sept. 9-11 and will not be restricted to academics.

Papers will be presented by a Lutheran minister, a Roman Catholic theologian, Wall Street analyst and the principal of a private school in Washington.

Why an entire conference on Springsteen?

“He was always shooting for something higher -- some broader socio-cultural theme,” Kenneth Womack, one of the organizers and an associate professor of English at Pennsylvania State University, told Reuters.

He cited Springsteen’s lyrics on class, community and other issues that spoke to the heart of Americana, saying they made his work worthy of deeper introspection.

More than 500 people are expected to attend the event, which will include outings to the Stone Pony, the fabled music venue where Springsteen first aired his special brand of rock.

“I hope its not too fan-nish,” said Womack. “I hope people are thinking carefully about their arguments.”

Among the themes at the symposium will be Springsteen’s ties to his native New Jersey. “Springsteen is to New Jersey what Santa Claus is to the North Pole,” said one abstract by a local newspaper editor. “How Bruce Made It Cool to be From New Jersey,” was the title of another.

Springsteen is not the first musician to be honored by an academic conference revolving around his work. The Beatles and Bob Dylan have inspired similar academic efforts.