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The Beatles go to school: Some academic dissertations on the Fab Four

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The Beatles have been the subject of many studies over the years. Some of them, like Gordon Thompson's book “Please Please Me: Sixties British Pop, Inside Out” took a wide-ranging look at the Beatles and their music.

For the Beatles' 50th anniversary, Thomson Reuters Web of Science cited 10 academic papers, all of which are on the internet, some for free. The papers were primarily selected by their influence and the number of subsequent publications in which each was cited. We've provided links and a small excerpt of each one.

The 10 works:

  1. “I.E. Hyman, D.C. Rubin, “Memorabeatlia — A naturalistic study of long-term memory”: From the paper: ““Seventy-six undergraduates were given the titles and first lines of Beatles’ songs and asked to recall the songs. Seven hundred and four different undergraduates were cued with one line from each of 25 Beatles songs and asked to recall the title.”

  2. C. Whissell, “Traditional and emotional stylometric analysis of the songs of Beatles Paul McCartney and John Lennon”: From the paper: ““Traditional stylometric measures such as word usage, word length, and word repetition were paired with six new measures that described word emotionality in terms of a word’s pleasantness, its activation level, and the combination of these factors. All measurements were applied to the songs composed by Beatles Paul McCartney and John Lennon between 1962 and 1970....Lennon was the less pleasant and sadder lyricist and the Lennon-McCartney lyrics became less pleasant, less active, and less cheerful over time.”

  3. S. Cohen, “More than the Beatles: Popular music, tourism and urban regeneration” [book chapter],Tourists and Tourism: Identifying with People and Places ,” ed. by S. Abram, et al.,) 71-90, 1997. Quoting: “Using a case study on The Beatles and Liverpool, UK, this chapter considers the relationship between music and the city, and the implications of that relationship for the study and development of tourism .”

  4. R.J. Kruse, “Imagining Strawberry Fields as a place of pilgrimage,” Area, 35 (2): 154-62, 2003. Excerpt: ““This paper examines the significance of Strawberry Fields, the memorial to John Lennon in Central Park, New York City, as a place of secular pilgrimage.”

  5. W. Everett, “Fantastic remembrance in Lennon, John ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ and ‘Julia’ and voice-leading in selected Beatles songs,” Musical Quarterly, 72 (3): 360-93, 1986. “The faculty of memory is a thematic element in many songs of the Beatles.”

  6. G. Clydesdale, “Creativity and competition: The Beatles,” Creativity Research Journal, 18 (2): 129-39, 2006.
    “This article examines creativity, in particular the success of the British pop group The Beatles. The results suggest that The Beatles should not be seen as creative geniuses but as a creative process.

  7. J. Platoff, “John Lennon, ‘Revolution,’ and the politics of musical reception,” Journal of Musicology, 22 (2): 241-67, 2005.
    “The Beatles recorded two starkly different musical settings of John Lennon’s controversial 1968 song ‘Revolution’: One was released as a single, the other appeared on the White Album (as ‘Revolution 1’).

  8. A. Elliott, “Celebrity and political psychology: Remembering Lennon,” Political Psychology, 19 (4): 833-52, 1998.
    “This article is a contribution toward the task of constructing a distinctive political psychology and social theory of celebrity. The article begins by noting some recent approaches to the analysis of mass communications in political theory, and moves to consider what these theories mean for the conceptual analysis of celebrity. A substantive example of the political construction of celebrity is given in the case study of the ex-Beatle, John Lennon—specifically, the social drama surrounding his death in 1980.”

  9. S. Daniels, “Suburban pastoral: Strawberry Fields Forever and sixties memory,” Cultural Geographies, 13 (1): 28-54, 2006.
    “As a cultural period the 1960s is produced through overlapping forms of social memory in which private and public recollections overlap. In both sound and imagery, pop music, particularly that of the Beatles, is a principal medium of memory for the period.

  10. N. Wagner, “Domestication of the blue note in the Beatles’ songs,” Music Theory Spectrum, 25 (2): 353-65, 2003.
    “Much of the Beatles’ originality stems from the special way in which they handle blue notes....the present paper explains the formation of several of the harmonic idioms that shape the Beatles’ style.

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