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The Arts and Popular Culture: The Beatles

ENGL 117.301
R 1:30-4:30

This course will focus on the songs of the Beatles as a source of creative inspiration. The course will, in part, take its shape based on the interests of the students who enroll in it. While Beatles obsessives—you know who you are—are, of course, welcome, if you are new to their music, curious about how this iconic band might inspire your own creative output, your adventurousness and willingness to take a deep dive into their work is all that is required. We will listen to and discuss Beatles songs, watch documentaries about the group, explore their influence across the arts, and meet critics and artists who have engaged them and their work in meaningful ways. To that degree, the course will be more impressionistic than strictly schematic—that is, we will follow various threads in the Beatles’ work as they emerge and our fascination suggests. The goal is for us to achieve an understanding of the band and its individual members that is as visceral as it is intellectual. The class will do some analytic writing, and each student will make at least one presentation. However, students who are so inclined will be encouraged to pursue their own creative work—which is to say that, in consultation with the instructor, fiction, songs, poems, plays, visual art or videos inspired by the Beatles will be acceptable projects to complete the course’s requirements. You will be allowed a good deal of freedom in charting your own independent course, in other words, as appropriate to our subject and the gifts their work has given to us all. As Sgt. Pepper assured us, “A pleasant time is guaranteed for all.”

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