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"'We are the Mods': A Transnational History of a Youth Subculture"

Feldman, Christine Jacqueline (2009) "'We are the Mods': A Transnational History of a Youth Subculture". Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Mod youth culture began in the postwar era as way for young people to reconfigure modernity after the chaos of World War II. Through archival research, oral history interviews, and participant observation, this work traces Mod's origins from dimly lit clubs of London's Soho and street corners of the city's East End in the early sixties, to contemporary, country-specific expressions today. By specifically examining Germany, Japan, and the U.S., alongside the U.K., I show how Mod played out in countries that both lost and won the War. The Mods' process of refashioning modernity—inclusive of its gadgetry and unapologetic consumerism—contrasts with the more technologically skeptical and avowedly less materialistic Hippie culture of the later sixties. Each chapter, which unfolds chronologically, begins with a contemporary portrait of the Mod scene in a particular country, followed by an overview stretching back to its nineteenth-century conceptions of modernity and a section that describes Mod's initial impact there during the 1960s. They each conclude with a section highlighting the way in which Mod is celebrated by those who never experienced its initial 1960s manifestation. I position British Mod as a youthful response to Victorian modernity that was linked to industrialization, social classes, and colonialism and also to the destruction of WWII. Mod's beginnings in Germany are depicted as a cosmopolitan solution to the problematic nationalist past. The presence of U.K. musical groups there excited the country's youth into reconfiguring their identities while hoping to diminish their own associations with the previous generation's Nazism. The 1964 musical "British Invasion" of the U.S. encouraged male and female teenagers to re-imagine gender roles outside middle-class conventions. In looking at Japan, I focus on Mod's visual language and its translation into a non-western, yet, arguably "westernized" Asian culture. This dissertation examines the adoption and adaptation of this style across geographic space and also maps its various interpretations over time: from the early 1960s to the present. In sum, this study emphasizes Mod's transnationalism, which is evident in the culture's fashion, music, iconography, and gender aesthetics.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Feldman, Christine
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairZboray, Ronald Jzboray@pitt.eduZBORAY
Committee MemberHashimoto, Akikoahash@pitt.eduAHASH
Committee MemberMalin, Brentbmalin@pitt.eduBMALIN
Committee MemberFeuer, Janescorpio@pitt.eduSCORPIO
Committee Membervon Dirke, Sabinevondirke@pitt.eduVONDIRKE
Date: 15 June 2009
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 6 January 2009
Approval Date: 15 June 2009
Submission Date: 17 April 2009
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Communication: Rhetoric and Communication
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: ethnography; Mod; popular culture; youth and media; oral history; subcultures
Other ID:, etd-04172009-124057
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:38
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:40


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