England, the 1960s, and the Triumph of the Beatles

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Essential watching for any Beatles fan While I lived through Beatlemania (and love the Beatles), I found Professor Shelden's perspective interesting, well organized, informative, and enjoyable. This is a course Beatles' fans will love! It's also an accessible tool for anyone who wants to understand Beatles music. Professor Shelden framed the Beatles' development through a historical lens of America and England, proving the group's fame to be a catalyst for explosive cultural and societal reforms. Professor Shelden documents the forces that shaped these creative geniuses and their invaluable contribution to music.
Date published: 2021-02-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from What Would John Say? This is a 2020 production and is only 12 lectures, and that's probably enough. The whole time I spent listening to Prof Shelden explain the causes and effects of the Beatles on society, or society on the Beatles, I wandered what would John Lennon say to him about his views, analysis and conclusions? Or, for that matter, any of the Beatles? How accurate is his analysis? His bibliography is extensive and he uses primary sources to a large extent with quotes from each of the Beatles to support his statements. There are few Beatles photos, and of course no film strips or Beatle music played. Instead, there is a Spotify link to a play list to hear what Prof Shelden is explaining in his lectures. Clearly, Prof Shelden has been a life-long fan of the Beatles and his knowledge of the band is extensive. I learned something from the course.
Date published: 2021-02-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding One of Prof. Michael Shelden’s talents is to focus on the most interesting subjects. Last year, my wife and I enjoyed his TGC course, George Orwell: A Sage for All Seasons. “And now for something completely different,” as the Monty Python’s Flying Circus troop would say, we have a fascinating look at the popular culture of the Nineteen-sixties. Here is the backstory of the Beatles’ great music and the individuals who made it all possible. Housebound, we watched this video course while sitting out the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and just when Harvey Phillip “Phil” Spector (1939-2021), the American producer of the 1970 Beatles album Let It Be, died in prison of natural causes. Spector had been convicted for the 2003 murder of actress Lana Jean Clarkson (1962-2003) in his Alhambra, California, mansion. Such interesting people in the music biz! HWF, Mesa, AZ.
Date published: 2021-01-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A stunning lecture series! I have been a member of the great courses since it first started in 1997 and have watched and listened attentively to many great lectures in all fields of human knowledge. But, I must say, the combination of the Beatles history with the incisive insights of professor Michael Sheldan had me spellbound for twelve evenings. I highly recommend this series to those who love the Beatles music and wants to understand their massive world wide influence, which still echoes till this day.
Date published: 2021-01-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Puts It All in Context This was the first course I listened to/watched once I got my GCP membership and it did not disappoint! I am a pretty big fan of the Beatles. I am not the fan that knows every last detail of their careers and each micro and macro drama along the way, so this course was very educational for me. Seeing The Beatles through this lense of where England was culturally at the time gives the band and their music more context, and puts the band and the members individually into sharper focus. I think if you are a fan that fancies they know everything there is to know about The Beatles, this probably isn't the course for you. But if you are a fan like me: you know some stuff, but not all stuff, then I think you should check this out!
Date published: 2021-01-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Yellow Submarine I really enjoy the Beatles and this course by Michael Sheldon. BUT, why wasn't there any discussion about the movie or the album Yellow Submarine. I love them both!
Date published: 2021-01-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Learned a lot! I grew up during the 60s and 70s and was pleased to learn about the cultural influences the Beatles had on society. The discussions about the meanings of various songs was also fascinating. Highly enjoyable and recommended!
Date published: 2021-01-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Another great course from Michael Sheldon This was another great course from Michael Sheldon. His courses never disappoint, and this is no exception. It's an excellent survey of the Beatles during the decade of the 1960's.
Date published: 2021-01-10
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England, the 1960s, and the Triumph of the Beatles
Course Trailer
The Magical Mystery of the Beatles
1: The Magical Mystery of the Beatles

What happened between September 1963 and February 1964 to launch the Beatles toward international stardom? In this opening lecture, discover some of the major social and sonic factors at work in the transformation of these young musicians into a pop culture hurricane that would soon take over (or “invade”) America.

27 min
Fateful Intersections in Liverpool
2: Fateful Intersections in Liverpool

The Beatles were not born in a vacuum. Rather, they were a product of the many worlds contained within 1950s and 1960s Liverpool. Explore how the band soaked up this post-industrial and culturally vibrant scene, storing ideas and impressions that would later turn up, with surprising sophistication, in some of their early tunes.

27 min
Finding the Beat in the Beatles
3: Finding the Beat in the Beatles

The “beat” in the Beatles was about more than just the music—it was about the new group’s look and attitude. Explore the Bohemian fringe known as the beatniks; follow John, Paul, and George as they search for the right drummer; and consider the importance of the Beatles’ apprenticeship in Hamburg in refining their iconic sound.

26 min
Nowhere Men: The Dark Side of the Beatles
4: Nowhere Men: The Dark Side of the Beatles

Here, Professor Shelden reveals some of the less flattering characteristics of the Beatles. Chief among these: anger—both as a problem for John Lennon (who nearly killed a friend just months before the launch of Beatlemania) and as an outlet for creativity (best seen in one of the Beatles’ early successes, “Help!”).

26 min
Beatles for Sale: Brian Epstein’s Genius
5: Beatles for Sale: Brian Epstein’s Genius

Meet band manager Brian Epstein, without whom the Beatles would never have pushed their musical talents beyond the world of Liverpool. Discover how Epstein put the show on the road, and made sure that road went all the way around the world (and on The Ed Sullivan Show)—despite a strong degree of resistance to the band in its early days.

26 min
The Cold War, JFK, and the Beatles
6: The Cold War, JFK, and the Beatles

During the early 1960s, the Beatles became the West’s most irresistible export, as well as the best asset in the propaganda war with the East. Learn how the Cold War transformed the Beatles from a provincial act to superstars of the Western world. Also, consider new ways to think about the controversial song, “Back in the USSR.”

26 min
The Beatles Conquer America
7: The Beatles Conquer America

When the Beatles finally arrived in the United States of America, they did so with all the fanfare usually accorded to heads of state. How did so much sound and energy come from only four people? Plunge into the captivating fervor, communal spirit, and bacchanal of abandon that would soon be known as Beatlemania.

24 min
The Englishness of A Hard Day’s Night
8: The Englishness of A Hard Day’s Night

In summer 1964, the cinematic Beatles vehicle A Hard Day’s Night broke almost every rule in Hollywood at the time. Professor Shelden reveals what lies underneath the film’s surface charm and musical numbers: an overall attitude of irreverence and defiance in the face of authority, and a challenge for audiences to think for themselves.

26 min
Help! The Beatles at the Top in 1965
9: Help! The Beatles at the Top in 1965

Take a trip to Abbey Road, a welcome escape for John, Paul, George, and Ringo from Beatlemania. More than a home away from home, Abbey Road would allow the Beatles to operate—under the guidance of producer George Martin—with an unimaginable freedom that produced hits like “Yesterday” and the groundbreaking album Rubber Soul.

24 min
Crossroads: The Beatles in 1966
10: Crossroads: The Beatles in 1966

In 1966, the road ahead for the Beatles seemed limitless. Nevertheless, misfortune struck that year in the form of a changing American music market, and a disastrous summer tour to Germany, Japan, North America, and the Philippines that would leave the Beatles more disillusioned than ever with the show business demands of fame.

26 min
The Summer of Sgt. Pepper’s
11: The Summer of Sgt. Pepper’s

Go inside the invention of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, an experiment in everything that was untried and risky that allowed the Beatles to start over as a different group. From “A Day in the Life” to “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” consider the album’s surreal, psychedelic appeal—both then and now.

27 min
Hello, Goodbye: The End of the 1960s
12: Hello, Goodbye: The End of the 1960s

In their last years together, all four of the Beatles seemed headed in new directions as they grew up—and apart. Nevertheless, witness how these final years brought a range of sounds, including protest songs, mystic melodies, anthems of friendship, and an iconic double album called simply, The Beatles, but better known as the “White Album.”

25 min
Michael Shelden

Despite the debates that still cast parts of his career in doubt, Churchill's most enduring legacy is anchored in something that lies outside of history, something deeply personal and timeless. It is his individual stance as a champion of freedom when the world was at a tipping point between darkness and light, in which his voice and courage helped shift the balance towards the light.


Indiana University


Indiana State University

About Michael Shelden

Michael Shelden is a Professor of English at Indiana State University, where he has won the top award for excellence in scholarship, the Theodore Dreiser Distinguished Research/Creativity Award, three times. He earned his Ph.D. in English from Indiana University. Professor Shelden is the author of six biographies, including Orwell: The Authorized Biography, which was a New York Times Notable Book and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

Professor Shelden is also the author of Young Titan: The Making of Winston Churchill, which has been translated into Russian, Chinese, and Portuguese. His book Mark Twain: Man in White was a New York Times best seller, was chosen as one of the best books of 2010 by the Library Journal, and was named one of the best nonfiction books of 2010 by the Christian Science Monitor. In a special issue on the 240th anniversary of American independence, TIME® Magazine praised Professor Shelden’s biography of Herman Melville, Melville in Love, as one of “240 Reasons to Celebrate America.” American Literary Scholarship, the annual journal published by Duke University Press, has said, “Shelden possesses that rare gift of the truly talented biographer: He can sketch scenes so vividly that a reader seems to mingle with the subjects in their long-ago conversations.”

For 12 years, Professor Shelden was a featured writer for The Daily Telegraph in London. His many scholarly articles and reviews have included publications in the Folger Shakespeare Library’s Shakespeare Quarterly, the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Victorian Studies, and the Journal of British Studies.

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