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Bruce Springsteen Symposium Set For Monmouth University [AUDIO]

The music and legacy of Bruce Springsteen will be explored once again at Monmouth University during Glory Days: A Bruce Springsteen Symposium.

Jim Dyson, Getty Images

This is the third symposium on the Boss organized by University of Southern Indiana associate provost for Outreach and Engagement, Dr. Mark Bernhard. During his time at Penn State, Bernhard first organized a symposium in West Long Branch in 2005, and then during his tenure in Virginia Tech in 2009, there was another symposium at Monmouth University.

Like the two prior conferences, the third one to be held September 14-16th, will be a labor of love from a diehard Springsteen Fan.

This year’s symposium, which is a partnership between the University of Southern Indiana, Monmouth University, and Penn State Altoona, covers topics in Springsteen’s music like pedagogy, international perspectives, work and class, diversity, religion and spirituality, and of course politics and activism.

Past Springsteen symposiums have attracted several hundred participants, a mix of educators and non educators, but all of whom are fans.

The Boss has been the subject of numerous college courses as well as other introspective projects, and Bernhard attributes it to Springsteen’s ability to stay fresh and relevant.

“For instance the Rolling Stones or even the Who, bands that I really grew up with and loved and still love their music, when they tour now a days or if they’re putting out new albums they’re really rehashing their old material. When they’re touring, it’s all old material, but with Bruce really he continues to reinvent himself.”

Even though Bernhard has worked in educational institutions throughout the country, his decision to hold the symposiums in New Jersey- specifically at Monmouth University adjacent to where much of the musicians career blossomed- was very intentional. He believes Springsteen is an integral part of New Jersey’s identity and the connection to him is different than other parts of the country.

“I personally do not believe the symposium would do as well in California, Texas, or Indiana. People ask me ‘Why don’t you run this thing in Indiana?’ Well I’m not sure it would work in Indiana. “

Springsteen’s political stance has come to the forefront in recent history, most notably through his public support of Democratic Presidential nominee John Kerry, President Barack Obama, and in his criticism of the governor of his home state (and vocal Springsteen fan) Chris Christie.

“Bruce has certainly taken on a more overtly political stance that he used to, I don’t think there has really been a question as to what his political affinity and affiliations were but he was not as over until early in this decade. ” says Bernhard.

Bernhard acknowledges many academics who use Springsteen in their lectures are also likely to be left leaning politically, however he feels it’s not entirely partisan support.

“To be quite honest I think much of the demographic for higher education, they grew up with Bruce Springsteen. So like me, were fans first before becoming scholars.”

Ultimately Bernhard contends the symposium tackles all elements of Springsteen’s music and career, and will take a very objective look at the man as well.

“What’s different about this than a fan convention, is that we’re not really here to idolize the man as much as to look at his music and look at his impact on popular culture. ”

Full information on the symposium can be found here.

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