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March 25, 2021 at 2:09 pm

Mattson Tells Arts Fuse How Punk Rock Led to Interest in Intellectual History

Dr. Kevin Mattson with his new book on punk rock.

Dr. Kevin Mattson with his new book on punk rock.

The Arts Fuse interviews Dr. Kevin Mattson on a Genuine Culture War — Punks versus Reagan.

Mattson is the Connor Study Professor of Contemporary History at Ohio University. He recently authored WE’RE NOT HERE TO ENTERTAIN: Punk Rock, Ronald Reagan and the Real Culture War of 1980s America, documenting how the punk rock movement produced ideas and modes of expression that defied the basic assumptions of the time, and reminding readers of punk’s lasting cultural and political importance.

…I make the argument throughout that, for the generation I focus on — and that includes me — punk was one of the things that led to intellectual engagement. There are stories about Jello Biafra of the Dead Kennedys lecturing on stage. He said things like, “Go out and read a book. Inform yourself on what’s going on in American politics and ideas!” I remember being at a number of those shows, and this is really what got me interested in intellectual history, even though I didn’t go immediately from the punk scene to studying intellectual history….

Read the interview.

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