Why The Monkees Matter Discussion starts at 18:48 in the audio podcast.
Many thanks to my friends at Zilch who posted a new episode called “A TRIP TO THE MONKEES LIBRARY!” where they ranked their favorite books about the Monkees and spent a few fun minutes talking about what they liked about “Why the Monkees Matter” – it was especially fun to hear Sarah recount the fabulous time we spent at the 50th anniversary show in St. Louis, our chance to do a photo op with Micky and Peter afterwards, though she forgot to mention our midnight munch out at the Cracker Barrel next to our hotel.
I was deeply honored to be asked to read a section of my novel America’s Forgotten Founding Father (on the life of Filippo Mazzei) at the launch party for the entire Mentoris Book Project, which includes over 30 books about famous Italians and Italian Americans. At the Italian Cultural Institute in Westwood over a hundred family and friends gathered to celebrate this new publishing venture created by Robert Barbera under the umbrella of his Barbera Foundation. The evening also offered the chance to meet the director of the Italian Cultural Institute, Valeria Rumori and her cultural attache, Leonilde Callocchia.`
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Dr. Rosanne Welch reads from America’s Forgotten Founding Father
I was deeply honored to be asked to read a section of my novel America’s Forgotten Founding Father (on the life of Filippo Mazzei) at the launch party for the entire Mentoris Book Project, which includes over 30 books about famous Italians and Italian Americans. At the Italian Cultural Institute in Westwood over a hundred family and friends gathered to celebrate this new publishing venture created by Robert Barbera under the umbrella of his Barbera Foundation. The evening also offered the chance to meet the director of the Italian Cultural Institute, Valeria Rumori and her cultural attache, Leonilde Callocchia.
Dr. Rosanne Welch and Robert Barbera, Founder of The Barbera Foundation and The Mentoris Project
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It was especially nice that my mother Mary was on hand as she is the youngest child of the immigrants who brought our family to America, and my son Joseph, who is their great grandchild — and of course my wonderful husband Douglas, who recorded the event and took all the photos, which means, of course, that he does not appear in any of them.
Dr. Rosanne Welch and Mary Danko
Mary Danko, Joseph “Guiseppe” Welch and Dr. Rosanne Welch
Many thanks to Robert and to Ken LaZebnik, editor of the series who invited me along for the ride and to all the local Stephens MFA students who came out to support their professors in this new venture.
Fellow Mentoris Author, Pamela Winfrey, signs her book, “Marconi and His Muses”
Fellow Mentoris Author (Soldier, Diplomat, Archaeologist: A Novel Based On The Bold Life Of Louis Palma Di Cesnola), Dr. Peg Lamphier and Dr. Rosanne Welch
More great news for our ABC-CLIO Encyclopedia on Women in American History — Rosanne
Encyclopedia of Women in American History, edited by Dr. Rosanne Welch and Dr. Peg Lamphier, has been named to the 2018 Outstanding References Sources List, an annual list selected by experts of the Collection Development and Evaluation Section (CODES) of the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA), a division of the American Library Association.
The Outstanding Reference Sources Committee was established in 1958 to recommend the most outstanding reference publications published the previous year for small and medium-sized public and academic libraries. The selected titles are valuable reference resources and are highly recommended for inclusion in any library’s reference collections.
Dr. Rosanne Welch and Dr. Peg Lamphier
I was visiting — along with my IGE class — the fine folks at the Special Collections Room at the Cal Poly Pomona Library today.
They were happy to show me —in preparation for a Women in Leadership conference coming to the university this quarter — that they’ve filled their display cases with samples of the work of female professors across the history of CPP.
Nice to see them recognizing women and their part of the school’s history.
It was lovely to read another supportive review of Why The Monkees Matter – this one by Derham Groves writing for The Journal of American Culture. Happily, I had the pleasure of meeting with Derham when he was in Los Angeles for a conference. We shared a lovely dinner at the Hollywood/Highland complex while he told me the plans for a Monkees 50th anniversary of their concert tour of Australia at his home base, the Melbourne University library. If you live in Melbourne, check it out. — Rosanne
The publication of Why The Monkees Matter: Teenagers, Television, and American Pop Culture by Rosanne Welch happily coincided with the fiftieth anniversary of The Monkees—both the TV show and the pop group. In response to casting calls in The Hollywood Reporter and Daily Variety in 1965, American performers Mike Nesmith (b. 1942), Peter Tork (b. 1942), and Micky Dolenz (b. 1945) and English performer Davy Jones (1945-2012) were plucked from the 400 hopefuls who answered the ads to play the four members of a fictitious, struggling, garage band in a new teen comedy TV series, both to be called The Monkees. While Nesmith and Tork were unknown to the general public, Dolenz (as Mickey Braddock) had starred as “Corky” in the TV series Circus Boy (19561958), and Jones had played “The Artful Dodger” in the original Broadway production (1963) of the musical Oliver! The Monkees TV series ran from 1966 to 1968, while The Monkees pop group broke up in 1971, then reformed again in 1989.
Many critics and historians who have discussed The Monkees in the past have focused mostly on the group’s music, whereas Welch focuses mostly on the TV series. However, it is almost impossible to separate one from the other. The way in which The Monkees was formed standard for the cast of a TV show but seen by many as “inauthentic” for the members of a band—casts doubts about the musicianship of Nesmith, Tork, Dolenz, and Jones (unfairly, both Welch and I agree). When The Monkees toured Australia in 1968 (I was twelve years old and remember it very well), a TV reporter in Brisbane impertinently asked Jones: “When do you think you might break up and try something like music?” Jones responded by throwing a glass of water in the reporter’s face, to which he retaliated by doing likewise to Jones. (The Canberra Times, 23 September 1968).
Welch was right not to get bogged down too much by the controversy over the merit of The Monkees’ music, which is surely “old hat” anyway. Firstly, at least three of the group’s hits “I’m a Believer” (1966), “Last Train to Clarksville” (1966), and “Daydream Believer” (1967)—are widely recognized nowadays as “standards” of the era. Secondly, the two manifestations of The Monkees have both stood the test of time: the TV show has endured thanks initially to reruns, then to DVD, and now to YouTube; while the pop group’s three surviving members continue to perform into their seventies, most recently in 2016 to celebrate their fiftieth anniversary.
The four actor—musicians were hired to essentially play caricatures of themselves on The Monkees. This was underpinned by the decision to use their own given names on the show, that is, “Mike,” “Peter,” “Micky,” and “Davy.” As such, The Monkees were following a tradition established by some of America’s greatest comedians, including Jack Benny, Burns and Allen, Laurel and Hardy, Lucille Ball, and The Three Stooges. But The Beatles had the greatest effect on The Monkees. The English pop group influenced The Monkees’ zoomorphic name and the cute misspelling of “monkeys”; the group’s gender and size and particular mix of personalities; and the group’s zany antics on the TV show, which were modeled on those of The Beatles in their hit films, A Hard Day’s Night (1964) and Help! (1965). Coincidentally, Davy Jones and the Broadway cast of Oliver! performed on The Ed Sullivan Show on the same night in 1964 as The Beatles did. “I watched The Beatles from the side of the stage,” Jones recalled. “I saw the girls going crazy, and I said to myself, ‘This is it, I want a piece of that'” (Los Angeles Times, 1 March 2012).
Each chapter of Why The Monkees Matter looks at a different aspect of the TV series, such as its contribution to American counterculture in the 1960s; how feminism, gender, and sexuality were played out on the show; the role the scriptwriters played in making The Monkees a success; how the personalities of “Mike,” “Peter,” “Micky,” and “Davy” evolved over the course of the TV series’ two seasons and fifty-eight episodes and so on. But a constant theme throughout Welch’s book is metatextuality on The Monkees, that is, the two levels of dialogue that were going on one between the actor—musicians on the set and the other between the actor—musicians and the TV audience. While this was nothing new on television (Jack Benny and George Burns, mentioned above, both often interrupted the action to directly speak to or look at the TV audience), The Monkees introduced metatextuality to a new generation and, what is more, did it in fresh new ways, such as including outtakes at the end of the shows. While this is regularly done nowadays, it was rather “shocking” in 1966—and certainly very “hip.”
—Derham Groves, University of Melbourne
Talk Is open to the public:
Cal Poly Pomona
3801 W Temple Ave, Pomona, CA 91768
Bronco Student Center (BSC)
Ursa Minor Conference Room
November 30, 2017 3pm-5pm