Rock and roll has often claimed that it can change the world. Like many alternative bands of the 80s, the rock band U2, heavily influenced in their early years by living in war-torn Ireland, has explored questions of gender, politics, and religion in their songs since the release of their first album thirty years ago. Members of the band have become political activists addressing issues of education, poverty, inequity, fair trade, AIDS, and debt relief on both local and global levels. In this course, students will investigate the significance of rock and roll’s effect on Apartheid, famine, and public policy as well as U2’s on-going relevance from cultural, historical and intellectual perspectives. Students will explore such topics as gender ambiguity and self-knowledge, the Americas as forsaken and promised lands, and philanthropy and greed as tools of freedom and slavery. Texts will include lyrics, reviews and criticism, interviews, films, and music videos.