Recently, Mary-Lu Zahalan became the first student to earn a degree in Beatles from Liverpool Hope University, which began offering a course in Beatles study in 2009. (You can read the basic details about the course on our Abbeyrd Beatles Page website.). We asked her some questions about what it was like getting a Masters degree in the Beatles.
Q: Why did you decide to go for the degree?
Mary-Lu Zahalan: I needed a postgraduate degree to stay head of my department. I teach commercial vocal performance at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario.
Q: What was the toughest part of the course?
Mary-Lu Zahalan: The reading and the research.
Q: What was your thesis about?
Mary-Lu Zahalan: “An Issue of Latent Post-Colonial Cultural Capitol: A Consideration of Capitol Canada’s Role in the Initial Promotion and Dissemination of the Beatles.” I was looking at the issues surrounding a “familiar” connection that a significant number of Canadians had with the Beatles, possibly atttributed to the large proportion of British roots in Canada during the 1950s and early 1960s.
Q: What was homework like?
Mary-Lu Zahalan: There was a great deal of reading and writing in each of the modules. I also had to spend some extra time filling in some of the British history I was unfamiliar with.
Q: What kind of research did you do for the course?
Mary-Lu Zahalan: Academic journal analysis, primary source interviews, secondary source interviews and archival research.
Q: What do you intend to do now that you have the degree?
Mary-Lu Zahalan: I will continue teaching and I am currently developing an undergraduate course based on my curriculum in my masters program at Liverpool Hope University. I am also working on a book that looks at my experience in Liverpool and the chalIenges of returning to school as a mature student. I will also consider doing further research regarding the Canadian/British relationship as it pertains to the Beatles.
Q: Who’s your favorite Beatle?
Mary-Lu Zahalan: Paul.
Q: Favorite Beatle song?
Mary-Lu Zahalan: Hmmm, that’s much harder … there are so many great songs and different moods inspire different favorites. If I had to choose one, I would have to say “Got to Get You Into My Life.”
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