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Researching rock and roll at the BISC

An English castle, Jimi Hendrix, and a dive into sixties counterculture; all in a day’s work for one Undergraduate Student Summer Research Fellow.

The images of a sunny English castle and sixties rock and roll may not normally spring to mind when thinking about undergraduate research, but for Jena Hudson (ArtSci’18), it was the setting and theme of her summer research project.

Ms. Hudson spent 12 weeks at the Bader International Study Centre (BISC) in East Sussex through the Undergraduate Student Summer Research Fellowship (USSRF). She assisted Dr. Christian Lloyd, Academic Director at the BISC, with researching his second book on Jimi Hendrix, of whom he is a leading expert.

“Hendrix spent the most important time of his career in London, so being in England for this research was perfect,” says Ms. Hudson. “Being able to access primary resources, and conduct interviews with people in London who were actually there in the sixties, was such an incredible experience.”

From left to right: Doug Kaye, former neighbour of guitarist legend Jimi Hendrix, Dr. Christopher Lloyd, Academic Director of the Bader International Student Centre, and Jena Hudson (ArtSci’18), USSRF fellow, sit on Jimi Hendrix’s bed in his former apartment while conducting a research interview.
From left to right: Doug Kaye, former neighbour of guitarist legend Jimi Hendrix, Dr. Christian Lloyd, Academic Director of the BISC, and Jena Hudson (ArtSci’18), USSRF fellow, sit on Jimi Hendrix’s bed in his former apartment while conducting a research interview.

For Ms. Hudson, the most exciting part of the summer was conducting an interview with a man who knew Hendrix, in Hendrix’s apartment.

“The apartment is now part of the Handel & Hendrix in London Museum,” says Ms. Hudson. “It was recreated to look as it did when he lived there. The man we interviewed, Doug Kaye, worked in the restaurant underneath the apartment, and that’s how he and Hendrix got to know each other. Getting to interview him in that space, with audio playing around us from recordings from the sixties, was surreal.”

Ms. Hudson also researched issues in the counterculture that Hendrix was part of in London in the sixties. Hendrix spent the most important time of his musical career in London, and the final years of his life there before his death at the age of 27.

“I looked at how sexism, racism, and consumerism existed within that idealized time period,” says Ms. Hudson. “There are reviews in IT, an underground newspaper that was a pioneer at the time, which describe Hendrix as ‘the wild man of Borneo’, based on his race. In Hendrix’s life, he gave interviews that show he had some sexist views towards women. Even though the hippie culture at the time had an image of anti-consumerism, they were kind of a wasteful bunch, buying very cheap clothes and throwing them away.”

One of the unique ways for Queen’s students to engage in research, the USSRF is a paid fellowship available to continuing undergraduate students in the social sciences, humanities, and creative arts interested in developing research skills under the guidance of an eligible faculty researcher. It also provides meaningful opportunities to engage in discovery-based learning and to develop research and presentation skills. Students on main campus work with their supervisor to develop a project, while students going to the BISC select a project from those offered by faculty.

To learn more about the USSRF, visit the Queen’s University Research Services website. The application deadline for the 2018 summer program is March 9, 2018.