I’m So Bored with the USA: Reflecting America in British Punk Memoirs of the 1970s




Punk, Counter Culture, National Identity, British


In recent years there have been an increasing number of biographies and autobiographies written by the leading figures of the British punk scene of the Seventies and Eighties. As we pass the 40th anniversary of 1977, it can be argued that the British punk scene has also ‘come of age’ in academia with a number of retrospectives that examine not only the contemporary impact of punk in the Seventies but also the legacy of the punk movement in shaping British culture.

With a focus on John Lydon’s text Rotten: No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs (1993) and Viv Albertine’s Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys (2014), this article will examine how these autobiographies draw attention to ways in which the British sub-cultural scene offered a platform through which British culture and identity could be reassessed as anti-American and anti-capitalist. This study will also highlight to what extent the self-reflexive framing of these personal narratives within the larger political, cultural and social landscape, can be read as a characteristic feature of the British punk memoir. Through these texts it is possible to uncover the pivotal role of the British punk scene in the development of a counter cultural identity that mirrored changes in the contemporary national identity. As such, punk memoirs, biographies and autobiographies not only give perspectives on a subversive youth cultural scene but, perhaps more importantly, can offer unique insights into the evolution of post-imperial British identity.

Author Biography

Anita Raghunath, VU University, Amsterdam

Dr. Anita Raghunath is a lecturer in English Literature at the Faculty of Humanities (VU, Amsterdam). Originally from London, she gained her PhD at Queen Mary College (University of London) in 2003 and has specialised in 18th Century Literature having written her doctoral thesis on the emergence of British cultural identity in the period 1707-1848. More recently she has researched the issue of contemporary British cultural identity in counter cultural texts from the 18th Century through to the present and has a number of publications in this field.

She is the editorial advisor for the international journal Punk and Post-Punk and currently co-Chair of the Punk Scholars Network, UK.