Reading the Beatles: Cultural Studies, Literary Criticism, and the Fab Four [NOOK Book]

Overview

Despite the enormous amount of writing devoted to the Beatles during the last few decades, the band's abiding intellectual and cultural significance has received scant attention. Using various modes of literary, musicological, and cultural criticism, the essays in Reading the Beatles firmly establish the Beatles as a locus of serious academic and cultural study. Exploring the group's resounding impact on how we think about gender, popular culture, and the formal and poetic qualities of music, the contributors ...
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Reading the Beatles: Cultural Studies, Literary Criticism, and the Fab Four

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Overview

Despite the enormous amount of writing devoted to the Beatles during the last few decades, the band's abiding intellectual and cultural significance has received scant attention. Using various modes of literary, musicological, and cultural criticism, the essays in Reading the Beatles firmly establish the Beatles as a locus of serious academic and cultural study. Exploring the group's resounding impact on how we think about gender, popular culture, and the formal and poetic qualities of music, the contributors trace not only the literary and musicological qualities of selected Beatles songs but also the development of the Beatles' artistry in their films and the ways in which the band has functioned as a cultural, historical, and economic product. In a poignant afterword, Jane Tompkins offers an autobiographical account of the ways in which the Beatles afforded her with the self-actualizing means to become less alienated from popular culture, gender expectations, and even herself during the early 1960s.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
While John, Paul, George and Ringo have been (deservedly) deconstructed more than any other rock band, and an academic look at them is welcome, many of the observations made in this collection will leave fans asking, "So what?" In the opening essay, Penn State English professor Ian Marshall carefully explores the band's lyrics. He points out the confessional poetics of Lennon songs like "Nowhere Man," but isn't original when he compares that tune's themes of self-doubt to Thoreau's "mass of men [who] lead lives of quiet desperation." A more intriguing assertion is Marshall's point that The White Album is a work of "post-modernity" that reflects the fracturing of the band's media image as four lovable mop-tops and a "rebuttal" to the earlier Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Far more remarkable is William M. Northcutt's essay, which studies "death, loss, and the crowd" on Sgt. Pepper. Northcutt, who teaches cultural studies at Germany's University of Wuppertal, introduces the idea that the album's cover, with its famous portrait of the Beatles surrounded by cultural icons, reveals the band's distance from the crowd and its conflicted feelings toward fame. (Mar.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780791481967
  • Publisher: State University of New York Press
  • Publication date: 9/18/2009
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • File size: 595 KB

Meet the Author

At the Pennsylvania State University at Altoona, Kenneth Womack is Interim Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, and Todd F. Davis is Associate Professor of English. Together they authored The Critical Response to John Irving and Formalist Criticism and Reader-Response Theory, and edited Mapping the Ethical Turn: A Reader in Ethics, Culture, and Literary Theory. Davis is also the author of Kurt Vonnegut’s Crusade; or, How a Postmodern Harlequin Preached a New Kind of Humanism, also published by SUNY Press.

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Table of Contents

Introduction : "dear sir or madam, will you read my book?" 1
1 "I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together" : Bakhtin and the Beatles 9
2 From "craft" to "art" : formal structure in the music of the Beatles 37
3 "Love, love, love" : representations of gender and sexuality in selected songs by the Beatles 55
4 Painting their room in a colorful way : the Beatles' exploration of timbre 71
5 Mythology, remythology, and demythology : the Beatles on film 97
6 Vacio Luminoso : "tomorrow never knows" and the coherence of the impossible 111
7 The spectacle of alienation : death, loss, and the crowd in Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band 129
8 We all want to change the world : postmodern politics and the Beatles' White Album 147
9 "The rest of you, if you'll just rattle your jewelry" : the Beatles and questions of mass and high culture 161
10 A universal childhood : tourism, pilgrimage, and the Beatles 169
11 "Baby you're a rich man" : the Beatles, ideology, and the cultural moment 183
12 Spinning the historical record : Lennon, McCartney, and museum politics 197
Afterwood : I want to hold your hand 215
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