You Can Get a Master’s Degree for This?!

You may not remember the technology, but before the World Wide Web that we know and love today, there was Gopher, its spiritual predecessor. Gopher became available in the late spring of 1991 and was a system that let you read text files on other computers on the internet. Unlike the web, where you click on links to navigate, Gopher was meant strictly for text-only display; you navigated through a series of menus.

As a computer science student at Crazy Go Nuts University, I became aware of Gopher sometime in the fall of 1991 and used it to find computer science papers and tutorials. Along the way, I discovered that it was also a great source of non-course-related reading material. One of my favourite finds in “Gopherspace” was a thesis that someone had written, examining the meaning and symbolism in the lyrics of Don McLean’s American Pie. “You can get a degree for this?” I asked.

Cover for My Bloody Valentine's album, 'Loveless'.

Apparently you can, and here’s present-day proof. By way of my friend Miss Fipi Lele, I’ve come across a master’s thesis that examines, of all things, the album Loveless by British “shoegazer” band My Bloody Valentine, which was released on my birthday in 1991. It’s an excellent album and considered a landmark created during a time of great change in popular music, with Public Enemy and De La Soul redefining hip-hop, Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden redefining metal, the “Manchester” bands mixing dance and rock, the rise of techno and industrial music and Lollapalooza. Yes, it’s one of the best albums of the nineties in my opinion, but is it worth a master’s thesis?

Here’s a snippet from the first paragraph of chapter 1 of the thesis, titled The Origins of the Shoegazer:

From the summer of 2003 until the summer of 2004, I was a member of a rock

band that I considered the culmination of my musical creativity up to that point called

The House Project. It was not a rock band in the MTV or modern radio sense of the

term, rather the experience was more like four disgruntled musicians with bachelors

degrees in music pounding out their frustrations with a corrupt mainstream music

industry on their instruments—an industry that seemed to place more emphasis on image

than on artistic creativity and the music itself.

Wanker sense…tingling!

I don’t know about you, but any professor I had, even those in my arts electives, would’ve handed me back any paper that opened with that claptrap.

If you want an amusing read, here it is: My Bloody Valentine’s “Loveless” [366KB PDF], “A thesis submitted to the College of Music [at Florida State University] in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Music”.

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