Liverpool Hope University is now offering a Master of Arts degree in The Beatles, Popular Music and Society. (No Oxford Comma [a.k.a. Harvard Comma or Serial Comma]; this is England.) In fact, let me just quote from the newsy website, though adjusting it for American usage:
Liverpool Hope University has launched a brand new MA in The Beatles, Popular Music, and Society, the first of its kind in the world.
The new course, which can be studied both full and part time, covers four modules with specific issues relating to The Beatles and Popular Music, consisting of four 12-week taught modules, plus a dissertation.
Mike Brocken, Senior Lecturer in Popular Music at Hope, said, “There have been over 8,000 books about The Beatles but there has never been serious academic study and that is what we are going to address.
“Forty years on from their break-up, now is the right time and Liverpool is the right place to study The Beatles. This MA is expected to attract a great deal of attention, not just locally but nationally and we have already had enquiries from abroad, particularly the United States.
'”The Beatles, Popular Music and Society’ marks a seminal advance in popular music studies. For the first time in the UK and possibly the world, a postgraduate taught course is offered to research into The Beatles, the city from which they emerged, the contexts of the 1960s, technology, sound and songwriting and the industries that have set up in their wake to capitalize on tourism in the city of Liverpool.”
I’m all for seminal advances, of course. Still, I can’t get over the idea that this is a Liverpool cash-in on the Beatles for people who actually can’t qualify to study popular music and society at another English University, such as the Open University. Studying popular music is not unheard-of in Great Britain, for heaven’s sake. A graduate degree in the Beatles? To what purpose? I have a nightmare-vision of the applicant pool, or the new-student mixer: slightly batty senior citizens and people my age—middle-age, we’ll say—who dress oddly, still occasionally wear their Beatle-wigs and Ringo-boots and whose eyes gleam just a little weirdly.
The Beatles, bless them, weren’t and aren’t a discipline. Sure, study Musicology and do a dissertation on them, or study Cultural Studies and do a dissertation on them, or Psychology or whatever else. But a degree in the Beatles per se? How would that make you anything but a laughingstock? “Well, I’ve really spent most of my time with the verses of “In My Life”; I’ll have to go review George Martin’s double-speed piano solo and get back to you before answering your question definitively. This really isn’t my area; I’m an Earlyist, and my dissertation was on pitch bending and blues inflections in the Tony Sheridan sessions, so this is well outside my sub-specialty…”
The global economy is in free-fall and Liverpool Hope University launches a Beatles degree. Sheesh. I’m sure there are Beatles fans all over the world who should be given the degree on the spot for work already accomplished.