Instructor Spotlight: Mullika Sahrawat
What inspired this course?
Mullika Sahwarat: I have a broad love for music, but The Beatles stand alone in their unique greatness that transcends time. The more I have learned about The Beatles, the more I have learned about music’s influence on not only culture, but politics, religion, and national movements. The Beatles are a cool vehicle for intellectual exploration in that most people are familiar with the band on some level, so it’s easier to use them to explore uncharted territory; it’s like the magic school bus.
What has the experience of teaching and designing this course taught you?
MS: Designing this course has simultaneously taught me that I know more than I thought, and that I know less. Creating a syllabus and lesson plans enabled me to organize my knowledge and make new connections - have you ever compared The Beatles’ “A Day In The Life” with Salvador Dali’s “The Persistence of Memory”? I also gained a lot of empathy for teachers as I got creative about how to include a diversity of activities, how to lead a class to reach conclusions about important motifs, and how to engage a class for a long evening seminar.
Do you have a favorite Beatles lyric?
MS: I love this line from the song “The End”: “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.” The song is almost cathartic, closing out the “Abbey Road” album (the last album recorded by The Beatles) and featuring a solo from each band member. This closing couplet carries a simple yet resounding message - all you need is love!
There have been so many movies, TV shows, and documentaries about the Beatles over the years - do you have a favorite or one you recommend everyone should watch?
MS: Richard Lester’s “A Hard Day’s Night” is a classic must-watch. The movie masterfully captures the essence of Beatlemania and the blossoming of the era that we think of as “The 60s” today. It was created before the band members became cultural idols and their enduring legacy was cemented, so the movie is brimming with the authentic and organic personalities of each Beatle.
What do you hope students will take away from this class?
MS: Besides an enriched understanding of The Beatles, I hope students take away a deeper comprehension of the social power of music. My goal is that this appreciation can be extrapolated beyond this course, and that our discussions and analytic tools can be applied to the countless other instances of musical power - to name a few: the pushback against musical censorship in some Islamic states, Miriam Makeba’s music during apartheid, and the integration of music and generational culture through Native American powwows. In short, I hope students explore the forces that influence music, and the forces music can influence in their lives beyond class.
If you could start a Beatles cover band - what would your band name be?
MS: The Dizzy Lizzys
Mullika Sahrawat (she/her) is originally from Princeton, New Jersey. She is currently a senior at Tufts studying Quantitative Economics, Entrepreneurship, and Finance. At Tufts, she is a co-president of the local sorority The Ivy, a member of Tufts Financial Group, and a dog-walker/babysitter in the Somerville neighborhood.