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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Deconstructing Lucy

The Solipsist congratulates Mary-Lu Zahalan-Kennedy (of the Oakville, Ontario, Zahalan-Kennedys) for being the first person in the world to complete a masters degree in Beatles studies (not to be confused with a masters in beetles studies, which has been attained by any number of entomologists). We would also like to chastise Ms. Zahalan-Kennedy for being Canadian, but perhaps with her higher education she will now be able to find a job in the developed world.

Offered by Hope University in (where else?) Liverpool, the MA in Beatles studies is hardly frivolous, nor is the curriculum confined strictly to the Beatles' catalog. Candidates must complete coursework in understanding popular music (the final exam requires students to correctly identify at least 70% of the lyrics to "Louie, Louie"); the history of Liverpool ('cause apparently it existed before the Beatles); Beatles musicology; and historical and critical approaches to the Fab Four.

The first question most people ask is, "What are the job prospects for someone with an MA in the Beatles?" We don't ask that question: It's patronizing. If Ms. Zahalan-Kennedy had completed a masters in the work of, say, Mozart or Beethoven, far fewer eyebrows would be raised. The Beatles have certainly had as great an impact on modern culture as any musicians. So the simple answer to the first question is that Ms. Zahalan-Kennedy's job prospects are just as good as those of anyone with any masters in any musical field: slim to non-existent.

The better question, though, is, if she is the first person to complete a masters degree in Beatles' studies, who the heck were her professors? Unless Paul and Ringo showed up to explain the cultural significance of what they were doing, we can't help but think that Ms. Zahalan-Kennedy got scammed.


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