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Professor's New Book Answers 'Who Are the Mods?'

By Lori Wright, Media Relations
January 27, 2010

When The Beatles captured the attention of American youth when they arrived in New York on Feb. 7, 1964, they became the unofficial messengers for Mod style outside Great Britain. In her new book, Christine Feldman, a visiting professor of communication at UNH, chronicles this important youth culture movement that has its roots in the years following World War II and continues today.

“We Are the Mods: A Transnational History of a Youth Subculture” (Peter Lang, 2009) draws on archival research, oral history interviews, and participant observation to examine the adoption and adaptation of Mod style across geographic space also maps its various interpretations over time, from the early 1960s to the present. The book traces the Mod youth culture from its genesis in the dimly lit clubs of London’s Soho, where it began as a way for young people to reconfigure modernity after the chaos of World War II, to its contemporary, country-specific expressions.

By examining Mod culture in the United States, Germany, and Japan alongside the United Kingdom, “We Are the Mods” contrasts the postwar development of Mod in those countries that lost the war with those that won. The book illuminates the cultures fashion, music, iconography, and gender aesthetics, to create a compelling portrait of a transnational subculture.

“ ‘We Are the Mods’ reaffirms that the adoption of modern youth culture has cultivated identities of young people in the U.K., German, the U.S. and Japan who want to live in a more active, progressive, and self-aware way apart from mainstream culture. This principle was true in the 1960s and remains true for today’s Mods,” Feldman says. 

The book has received international critical acclaim.

"Exploring the contemporary reanimation of Mod style in locales stretching from Cologne to Kyoto, ‘We Are the Mods’ compellingly demonstrates how retro-chic cannot be dismissed as merely a depthless, postmodern imitation of dead styles, but instead should be recognized as an active cultural enterprise in which media forms of the past are commandeered and mobilized in meaningful ways in the lived cultures of the present," said Bill Osgerby, London Metropolitan University.

“Combining historical and contemporary sources, Christine Jacqueline Feldman convincingly accounts for the persisting appeal of a transnational subcultural style by accompanying us on a Mod Odyssey. Interpreting Mod as an idealized modernity, a continuingly re-configured cosmopolitanism that encompasses entrepreneurial commoditization not as dilution but as inherent inspiration, this book makes a crucial contribution to a new generation of youth cultural literature,” said David Muggleton, University of Chichester, United Kingdom.

Christine Feldman is a lecturer in communication at UNH. She received her Ph.D. in communication from the University of Pittsburgh, and was a German-American Fulbright Fellow at the University of Hamburg’s Research Center of Contemporary History. She is also the author of “Austin Powers: Reinventing the Myth of Mod Spies and Swingers” featured in the anthology “Secret Agents: Popular Icons Beyond James Bond” (Peter Lang, 2009).

 


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