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Monadnock Profiles: FPU librarian’s book focuses on teaching the Beatles

  • Franklin Pierce University Librarian Paul O. Jenkins recently co-edited a book titled "Teaching the Beatles," a book full of different approaches to teaching courses about the famous rock band. Jenkins has been a fan of the band since he was a child. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—

  • Franklin Pierce University Librarian Paul O. Jenkins recently co-edited a book titled "Teaching the Beatles," a book full of different approaches to teaching courses about the famous rock band. Jenkins has been a fan of the band since he was a child. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—

  • Franklin Pierce University Librarian Paul O. Jenkins recently co-edited a book titled "Teaching the Beatles," a book full of different approaches to teaching courses about the famous rock band. Jenkins has been a fan of the band since he was a child. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—

  • Franklin Pierce University Librarian Paul O. Jenkins recently co-edited a book titled "Teaching the Beatles," a book full of different approaches to teaching courses about the famous rock band. Jenkins has been a fan of the band since he was a child. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—

  • Franklin Pierce University Librarian Paul O. Jenkins recently co-edited a book titled "Teaching the Beatles," a book full of different approaches to teaching courses about the famous rock band. Jenkins has been a fan of the band since he was a child. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—

  • Franklin Pierce University Librarian Paul O. Jenkins recently co-edited a book titled "Teaching the Beatles," a book full of different approaches to teaching courses about the famous rock band. Jenkins has been a fan of the band since he was a child. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Thursday, August 30, 2018 10:14AM
Quick hitsFavorite album: Rubber SoulFavorite song: I Should Have Know BetterFavorite Beatle: George Harrison

Born into a family of Beatles fans, Paul O. Jenkins’ love of the British rock band quite literally began at birth.

Jenkins, a librarian at Franklin Pierce University, has used his love of the Beatles to teach college courses for a decade and more recently to co-edit and assemble a book titled “Teaching the Beatles,” which he worked on with his brother, and fellow Beatles fan, Hugh Jenkins. 

“Ever since I was conscious, I was listening to Beatles albums because my two older brothers were playing them all the time,” Jenkins said in his FPU office, surrounded by Beatles books and memorabilia. “… I guess you could say that I fell in love with the Beatles and it’s been a lifelong love affair. I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t listen to the Beatles, it’s been a constant.”

Jenkins fell into Beatlemania himself at the age of 4, when his father bought him a copy of “Rubber Soul.” Jenkins now owns every album – including anthology collections and solo material from band members – on CD. He also owns many of the albums digitally and on vinyl, including the copy of “Rubber Soul” his father bought him in 1965. 

“I’m either writing about the Beatles, reading about the Beatles, or listening to the Beatles practically every day,” Jenkins said. “There’s always something new coming out. There’s a new book almost every month.”

Although interested in a number of different bands besides the Beatles – Bruce Springsteen, the Kinks, and the Rolling Stones, to name a few – Jenkins feels no musician has been able to consistently match the quality and innovation of the English musicians.

“They changed so much. They were not content to stick with a proven formula and keep riffing off of that formula to produce the same thing,” Jenkins said. “They got bored very easily. They didn’t want to keep doing the same kinds of songs.”

While always a passion of his, Jenkin’s love of the Beatles didn’t seep into his professional life until about 2007 when he began teaching courses on the Beatles when he was a librarian at Mount St. Joseph University in Ohio. Prior to teaching about the Beatles, Jenkins taught a course on the history of American protest music. 

“When I was thinking of what was really a consistent interest in my life, and what consistently made me happy, the answer came to me – it was the Beatles,” Jenkins said. “You go through certain interests… the Beatles are a consistent interest throughout my life. I’ve heard their songs hundreds of times, and yet they still manage to sound fresh.”

Jenkins’ brother Hugh, an English professor at Union College in New York, has also taught courses on the Beatles. After some discussion – and realizing the impact the band had on each of their lives – the two decided to embark on a literary journey, focused on how different professors throughout the world use the Beatles in their courses. 

“There are more than 2,000 books written about the Beatles, so how can you say something new about a group if there have been 2,000 books written about them? We discovered that no one had written a book about how to teach the Beatles to undergraduate students,” Jenkins said. 

All in all, the book took about two and a half years to complete. Jenkins began the project by reaching out to about 60 different professors throughout the world, eventually confirming ten for the project.

Each chapter of the book focuses on a different approach to teaching the Beatles, Jenkins said. One chapter focuses on teaching the Beatles through an online courses, while another focuses on using the Beatles as a business case study.

In addition to assembling and editing the book, the Jenkins brothers contributed contributed a chapter each to the book, along with the introduction and appendix. Jenkins’ chapter focuses on the band’s cultural impact related to fashion, film, spirituality, and more. 

"With this book, I’ve joined my two interests together,” Jenkins said, of the Beatles and books. “… It’s definitely a high point [in my life.]”

Jenkins is no stranger to writing books, as he already has two books to his credit – a book about librarianship  and another about folk artist Richard Dyer-Bennet. He also has a deal in place for book about a bluegrass band. 

“Teaching the Beatles” has already opened doors for Jenkins he didn’t know existed. In addition to talking about the Beatles at book stores and libraries, Jenkins and his brother have been invited to speak about the band at a symposium on the Beatles’ “White Album,” which is celebrating it’s 50th anniversary this year. 

“You want to find things to teach about in college that students are going to relate to… everyone loves music,” Jenkins said. “There are lots of history of rock courses out there, and the Beatles play a big part in those courses, but they are so popular that there are whole courses on the Beatles now.”

Jenkins’ next Beatles-related credit could very well be a book focused on the the various works of fiction inspired by the band. 

“People have written about their music exclusively and endlessly. You look for a different angle, that’s what you do in the academic world,” Jenkins said. “It’s like Shakespeare. A zillion people have written about Shakespeare, so what can you possibly find new to say about Shakespeare? Well, people are still finding new things.”