Why pamper life's complexities?

Essays on The Smiths

Edited by Sean Campbell and Colin Coulter

Why pamper life's complexities?


  • Hardcover
  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-7841-5
  • Pages: 272
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £16.99
  • Published Date: October 2010
  • BIC Category: Cultural Studies, Theory of music & musicology, Cultural studies, BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Composers & Musicians, MUSIC / Genres & Styles / Rock, Rock & Pop Music, The arts / Theory of music & musicology
  • Series: Music and Society


For five short years in the 1980s, a four-piece Manchester band released a collection of records that had undeniably profound effects on the landscape of popular music and beyond. Today, public and critical appreciation of The Smiths is at its height, yet the most important British band after The Beatles have rarely been subject to sustained academic scrutiny. Why pamper life's complexities?: Essays on The Smiths seeks to remedy this by bringing together diverse research disciplines to place the band in a series of enlightening social, cultural and political contexts as never before.

Topics covered by the essays range from class, sexuality, Catholicism, Thatcherism, regional and national identities, to cinema, musical poetics, suicide and fandom. Lyrics, interviews, the city of Manchester, cultural iconography and the cult of Morrissey are all considered anew. The essays breach the standard confines of music history, rock biography and pop culture studies to give a sustained critical analysis of the band that is timely and illuminating.

This book will be of interest to scholars and students in the fields of sociology, literature, geography, cultural and media studies. It is also intended for a wider audience of those interested in the enduring appeal of one of the most complex and controversial bands. Accessible and original, these essays will help to contextualise the lasting cultural legacy of The Smiths.


This book as a whole conveys how the band drew from canonized literature as credibly as they did from what popular culture's own bourgeoisie have more recently called 'guilty' pleasures. Each chapter differently suggests how to listen to The Smiths is to listen to a sublimely subjective history of culture itself, in which supposed distinctions between 'high' and 'popular' are unostentatiously rejected. The essays thus work superbly as a collection, displaying how, via The Smiths, Sandie Shaw meets Oscar Wilde, Guy Fawkes joins T. Rex, Andy Warhol enters Coronation Street and George Formby harmonises with Kazem Al Saher.


1. Why Pamper Life's Complexities? An Introduction to the Book. Sean Campbell & Colin Coulter
2. Has The World Changed Or Have I Changed? The Smiths and the Challenge of Thatcherism. Joe Brooker
3. 'Irish Blood, English Heart': Ambivalence, Unease and The Smiths. Sean Campbell
4. Heaven Knows We'll Soon Be Dust: Catholicism and Devotion in The Smiths. Eoin Devereux
5. Sing Me to Sleep: Suicide, Philosophy, and The Smiths. Kieran Cashell
6. 'A Boy in the Bush': Childhood, Sexuality and The Smiths. Sheila Whiteley
7. 'This Way and That Way': Towards A Musical Poetics of The Smiths. Jonathan Hiam
8. I Don't Owe You Anything: The Smiths and Kitchen-Sink Cinema. Cecilia Mello
9. 'A Double Bed and a Stalwart Lover For Sure': The Smiths, the Death of Pop and the Not So Hidden Injuries of Class. Colin Coulter
10. Last Night We Dreamt That Somebody Loved Us: Smiths Fans (and Me) in the Late 1980s. Karl Maton
11. 'When we're in your scholarly room': the Media, Academia, and The Smiths. Fergus Campbell
12. 'So Much To Answer For': What Do The Smiths Mean to Manchester? Julian Stringer
13. 'Take Me Back to Dear Old Blighty': Englishness, Pop and The Smiths. Kari Kallioniemi
14. Guantánamo, Here We Come: Out Of Place With The Smiths. Nabeel Zuberi


Sean Campbell is Senior Lecturer in the Department of English and Media at Anglia Ruskin in Cambridge. Colin Coulter is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth

Why pamper life's complexities?

Edited by Sean Campbell, Colin Coulter

Paperback £16.99 / $24.95

Hardcover £85.00 / $130.00

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