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Scribner Seminar, London FYE 2016Gordon Thompson

"Swinging" London, 1966

Gordon Thompson
Professor of Music

In 1966, Time Magazine’s cover declared London “The Swinging City” with an accompanying article that raved about her musicians, artists, filmmakers, and entrepreneurs.  Between the rise of Beatlemania in 1964 and the riots of 1968, London’s youth culture created the premiere artistic milieu.  Fifty years later, the hopes and the ghosts of that era continue to haunt memories.  Students in this freshman seminar will explore mid-sixties London through published interviews (e.g., Mary Quant), biographies (e.g., Hunter Davies’s The Beatles), and autobiographies (e.g., Andrew Oldham’s 2 Stoned), films (e.g., Blow Up), music (e.g., The Beatles’ Revolver), cultural critiques (e.g., Shawn Levy), histories (e.g., Arthur Marwick), and walking tours.  In addition to the coverage of this anniversary in the British press, guests will provide windows into that cultural world.  Ultimately, students will come away with a better understanding of an epoch that continues to shape our contemporary world. 

Gordon Thompson, professor and past chair of the department of music, has previously directed Skidmore programs in London, and is excited to lead this seminar.  He is the author of Please Please Me: Sixties British Pop, Inside Out (Oxford University Press) which considers the evolution of London’s music and recording industries between 1956 and 1968.  He also writes on music each month for the OUPBlog.  His research interests include the music, technology, and social structure of sixties Britain, the music of India, and the relationship between music and media.  At Skidmore, he has organized the annual Beatlemore Skidmania concerts for the past decade and a half featuring Skidmore students and faculty performing their versions of Beatle songs.  The events have provided opportunities for hands-on student experience in arts management and have become Skidmore’s principal source of funding for local charities.