For the first time ever academics from around the world came together at the University of Limerick today to discuss and debate the phenomenal cultural influence worldwide of the songs and career of rock icon David Bowie. Over 300 sociologists, historians, music, culture and art academics from all across Ireland, Europe, Australia and America met at UL as it hosts the first academic conference dedicated to the work of the singer/song writer.
The three-day symposium will see discussions taking place on themes including analyses of Bowie's lyrics, album artwork and his many re-inventions. The contributors included David Bowie's former Press Officer at RCA, Chris Charlesworth; Deputy Editor of Hotpress, Stuart Clark and lead vocalist from the Undertones and Today FM presenter, Paul McLoone. The event has attracted speakers from academia and the cultural and music industries including the Victoria and Albert Museum, the University of London and the University of Maine, USA.
Dr Eoin Devereux, Department of Sociology at the University of Limerick one of the conference organisers described Bowie as 'one of rock music's true icons.'
Speaking from the opening day of the Bowie Symposium Dr Devereux said: "David Bowie represents the apex of popular culture. His work is characterised by its longevity and its staying power. He will be one of the few pop icons to be remembered and listened to in hundreds of years from now. Bowie is a true master of re-invention. His song writing and performances have captured the zeitgeist of the modern experience and he has dealt beautifully with the themes of loneliness, love and alienation which are some of the themes being discussed at UL today,” said Dr Devereux.
Strange Fascination? A Symposium on David Bowie, which has been posted on the official Bowie facebook page over the past number of weeks, is the latest example of the University of Limerick's expertise in examining popular cultural studies having previously held similar conferences on the societal and cultural influences of Morrissey and Harry Potter.
A number of art displays were incorporated into the symposium including unique art by the Australian artist Tanja Stark who has created mannequins of several of the main Bowie personae as well as matryoshkas (Russian Dolls) of his album artwork. Also on display are some prints of original pieces of art by David Bowie himself.