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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Pop-cultured professor presents new book

1989. Most UC Davis undergraduate students will remember this year as the year they took their first steps, spoke their first words or had their first brush with that bully on the kindergarten playground. To Joshua Clover, Associate Professor of English at UCD, the year signifies something greater. To him, 1989 evoked images and sounds of a year that had the cultural revolution of the century.

In his new book, 1989: Bob Dylan Didn’t Have This To Sing About, Clover explores the many faceted aspects of that years pop culture and historical events, as well as how these events gave the world more meaning.

Clover will be giving a talk about his book on November 10 in the Memorial Union second floor Art Lounge. The event will start at 6 p.m. and run for two hours. It will involve what Clover jokingly calls a multi-media presentation. Not only will there be a book reading and a Q&A section but he will also show music videos from the year’s most relevant pop hits.

“This type of setting, where a faculty member speaks about the book that they have written, creates an intimacy,” said Paul Takushi, a trade book purchase agent at the MU Bookstore. “The questions that the author is asked turn out to be more thought-out and specific.”

An experienced music journalist, poet and self-proclaimed “pop-expert,” Clover takes his experience from the observations of pop music he made while he wrote for Spin, Village Voice and GQ magazines.

“Journalism seemed unsatisfying for me,” Clover said. “I felt like I was selling my readers a product. When you are writing for a mass audience as a journalist, you are never asked to have a complete and elaborate theory. You are asked to have a nifty idea, an insight here or there and a funny attitude.”

In the book, Clover tries to merge away from this idea and takes a more behind-the-scenes approach. He dissects pop music and social history as if looking at it through a microscope, a complex feat for a book that was written in the short span of 98 days.

Published by the University Press, 1989 was a way for Clover to repay his unpaid debt to his journalistic past. Clover says the chapter was never fully closed off, because he had too many incomplete arguments about the years of 1989 to 1991 that he needed to work out.

“Ideally I wrote the book for someone who had been following my career as a journalist and said to themselves, ‘This is interesting but it does not take on problems directly,'” he said. “Because the same thing bothered me during my career, the book allowed me an opportunity to go after serious problems.”

There are about a dozen of these author events during the year – all of them featuring publications written by UC Davis faculty. Previous book talks have seen all types of turnouts, from two people showing up to an overflow out of the Art Lounge. Everyone from admiring students, friends, colleagues and the occasional half dozen people not affiliated with the author have been known to show up.

Clover’s popularity among his students will most likely guarantee a great turn out for his Nov. 10 appearance at the Art Lounge.

Junior music major Joey Rodriguez said he is looking forward to the presentation.

“After having taken one of [Joshua Clover’s] classes and reading his book The Matrix, I know that anything Joshua Clover does is guaranteed to be as shockingly thought-provoking as the frames of his glasses.”

ANASTASIA ZHURAVLEVA can be reached at arts@theaggie.org.

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