Lecture Series: Mathias Häußler: Wie amerikanisch war Elvis? Die Entstehung einer transatlantischen Popkultur im Kalten Krieg
How American was Elvis? The Emergence of a Transatlantic Pop Culture during the Cold War
Alongside Mickey Mouse and Coca-Cola, Elvis Presley is today one of the most significant pop-cultural symbols of the United States. His original rise to fame in the 1950s, however, was surrounded by heated debate. Presley’s lascivious performances on stage, together with his adaptations of African-American rhythm and blues music, were considered a provocation by many people in Eisenhower’s deeply conservative USA. In other parts of the world and against the backdrop of the Cold War, Elvis was often treated as a symbol of the controversial expansion of US-American mass culture consumerism.
This lecture explores the transformation of the image of Elvis Presley from a rebellious teenage figure to one of the greatest pop-cultural icons of the United States. It investigates how broader questions relating to US identity were often negotiated through the singer as a public figure. I interpret Elvis Presley as a pioneer in the development of a transatlantic youth culture, showing that pop-culture and consumerism were two aspects influencing the public image of the United States within the framework of the East-West conflict.
Mathias Häußler is lecturer at the Chair of European History at the University of Regensburg. He gained his PhD from the University of Cambridge. His first book, Helmut Schmidt and British-German Relations: A European Misunderstanding (Cambridge University Press, 2019), is based on his dissertation. Alongside his interest in political history and the history of international relations, he also works on pop culture, including the figure of Elvis Presley and mass tourism in the nineteenth century.
When? Monday, 14 December 2020, 18:15
This lecture is based on Häußler’s new book “Inventing Elvis: An American Icon in a Cold War World”: www.bloomsbury.com/uk/inventing-elvis-9781350107656/
Where? Online via Zoom, https://uni-regensburg.zoom.us/j/85892790976,