The Beatles: CentreTerm students have "A Hard Days Night"
RELEASED: Jan. 12, 2006
Visiting assistant professor of music Sarah Stoycos, whose interests include the interaction of music and politics in the 20th century, has designed a freshman class that studies the cultural impact of the group many consider to be the greatest rock band of all time, The Beatles.
The class, now in its second week, is studying the career of the Beatles—from their beginnings in Liverpool up through the band's breakup in 1970—from cultural and musical points of view. They are analyzing the social context in which the Beatles worked and the ways in which they constantly reinvented themselves and their music.
Since CentreTerm classes are capped at 15 students, freshmen develop close working relationships with their professors and classmates early on while experiencing education in the small, intimate settings usually reserved for upperclassmen.
And if you're thinking a class about the Beatles sounds like a "bunny" class, think again!
"The class itself is a lot more difficult than I expected it to be in the beginning," said Melissa Mullins of Bristol, Tenn., "but the topic is so interesting and fun that it makes the work more enjoyable. The class has definitely made a big fan out of me."
"[The Beatles] are a cultural phenomenon that helps us learn more about ourselves and our country by exploring it," said Beth Milby of Danville. "However, this class can't be taken lightly. There's so much information about The Beatles that's necessary to understand to get any sense of them at all, so we've been working hard."
Students are expected to read Philip Norman’s book Shout: The Beatles in Their Generation, as well as numerous scholarly articles; write two papers; and give a presentation in front of the class.
What a drag, man! But hey, no class that involves listening to the Beatles can be a total downer. Don't let it blow your mind, because the groovy thing is the class gets to dress in fab 60's garb and take a trip to the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.
Stoycos, a Beatles fan, explains the scholarly aspects of the class.
"The music of the Beatles changed drastically throughout their comparatively short career. They were extremely eclectic and adventurous. This can be seen very easily by comparing the music (and overall image) of their early touring years—which grew out of their love for early rockabilly and rock ‘n’ roll greats like Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Elvis Presley, and Carl Perkins—with that of the period after they gave up touring.
"In these later years they became remarkably innovative, and much of their music explored the expressive possibilities of recording studio technology in an exciting way. All of this music making, of course, took place in the context of the social upheavals of the 60s. At various points in time the Beatles found themselves greatly influenced by, for example, the 1960s drug culture, a fascination with Indian music and religion, the rise of protest musicians like Bob Dylan, and so forth. The Beatles truly revitalized popular interest in the rock music genre that had been waning in the late 50's. And they also managed to push the boundaries of what was acceptable in the world of popular music."For more information on CentreTerm, see the course listings here and keep watching the Web site for special features on classes, internships and off-campus study.
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