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Summit of Creativity: A Celebration of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Beatles’
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

A symposium hosted by the University of Michigan, June 1-4, 2017

Call for Papers

June 1, 2017, will mark the 50th anniversary of the worldwide release of the Beatles’ complex and intriguing album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. While a handful of other titles may vie for the honor of the group’s “best” album, Pepper arguably marks the singular peak of the band’s creativity, and stands among the most imaginative, influential and culturally significant — indeed epoch-defining — artistic products of its age. Our interdisciplinary symposium will commemorate the anniversary with scholarly presentations, interviews, performances, poster sessions and other special events open to the public.

We welcome proposals for presentations on Sgt. Pepper and its immediate context (e.g., analyses of individual songs; information on how songs were composed and recorded; the album’s reception; Pepper in relation to other Beatle works of 1967; works by others that inspired and were inspired by Pepper; the album’s impact upon graphic design and related arts; Pepper as exemplar of British psychedelia; counterculture of the 1960s). We hope to consider the album’s invocations of new topics in its lyrics and their poetic expression; the roles of women as inspiration for Pepper; gender and sexuality as album topics; controversies over banned topics purportedly related to drug use; Pepper’s blending of Western and non-Western sounds; its trend-setting use of orchestra; its advances in engineering and production; its role in the creation of the “concept album”; its imaginative melodic, harmonic, contrapuntal, rhythmic and formal innovations; its trends in packaging with gatefold cover, opulent photographs and the back cover’s first-ever display of lyrics; its status as the first worldwide Beatles release with (nearly) uniform content; and the album’s inspiration for parodies and cover versions.

Featured speakers include Ken Scott (EMI’s Beatles engineer, 1967-1969, and author of Abbey Road to Ziggy Stardust: Off the Record with the Beatles, Bowie, Elton & So Much More), Anthony DeCurtis (author of Journeyman: Eric Clapton and contributing editor for 25 years to Rolling Stone), John Covach (author, What’s That Sound?: An Introduction to Rock and Its History), Walter Everett (author, The Beatles as Musicians), Tim Riley (author, Tell Me Why: The Beatles—Album by Album, Song by Song; and Lennon: The Man, The Myth, The Music), Gordon Thompson (author, Please Please Me: Sixties British Pop, Inside Out) and Kenneth Womack (author, Maximum Volume: The Life of Beatles Producer George Martin).

Proposals of work not already published, for 30-minute deliveries or poster presentations, should be no longer than 500 words plus a maximum of three pages of diagrams or illustrative examples. The proposal must include its title, but exclude any identifying information such as the author’s name or self-reference. A list of all required equipment (e.g., piano, sound system, LCD projector) must be included. Proposals are to be submitted as Word, text, or .pdf files. A cover note identifying the proposal title and giving the author(s)’ name, e-mail and postal addresses, telephone number, and (if applicable) institutional affiliation and rank should be sent to Proposals must be received by 5 P.M., EST, Thursday, December 15, 2016. Those submitting proposals will be notified as to acceptance by January 30, 2017.

The Program Committee consists of James Borders, Walter Everett and Katie Kapurch.