In an unprecedented move, Harvard University in the United States is set to launch a course centered around the globally acclaimed singer, Taylor Swift.
The course, aptly titled “Taylor Swift and Her World,” is slated to be part of the English department’s curriculum, providing students with an in-depth exploration of the artist’s impact on music, culture, and literature.
The syllabus for the course, as revealed by the university’s official website, outlines a comprehensive study of Taylor Swift, covering aspects ranging from her lyrics, music, and overall influence to dissecting her catalog and delving into relevant literary works.
The course will be led by Harvard professor and avid Swiftie, Stephanie L. Burt, who has been a fan of the 33-year-old artist for nearly 15 years.
“We will learn how to think about illicit affairs and hoaxes, champagne problems and incomplete closure,” reads the course description on Harvard’s website, referencing a number of songs from Swift’s vast catalogue.
The course will also get students to explore “fan culture, celebrity culture, adolescence, adulthood and appropriation”, and “how to think about white texts, Southern texts, transatlantic texts and queer subtexts”.
In an interview with Harvard University’s newspaper, the Harvard Crimson, Prof Burt added that Swift’s “influence on politics and culture is also worthy of study and analysis”.
The singer-songwriter used to stay mum about her political leanings but in recent years, she has spoken out against sexism, inequality and former United States president Donald Trump.
“I consider us fortunate to live in a time when one of the greatest artists is also one of the most well-known individuals on the planet. Why not take a course about it?” remarked Professor Burt, expressing her enthusiasm for sharing her passion with students.
The class is scheduled to commence in the upcoming semester in 2024.
Burt emphasized that teaching a Taylor Swift course would be highly relevant for students, whether due to their personal interest or the curriculum’s demand. The aim is to provide context to Swift’s work, especially for Harvard Swifties who may have limited formal exposure to literary and aesthetic analysis.
The course will not only be exclusive to Harvard, as the University of Florida is also gearing up to offer “Musical Storytelling With Taylor Swift and other Iconic Female Artists,” in 2024.
The Florida-based course, according to Entertainment Weekly, will explore Swift’s discography, songwriting, and delve into iconic artists such as Aretha Franklin, Billie Holiday, and Dolly Parton.
The leaked information indicates a deep dive into Taylor Swift’s songs, spanning from her self-titled debut album to her latest release, ‘Midnights.’ Hit songs like “You Belong With Me,” “Blank Space,” and “Anti-Hero” will be studied, alongside an analysis of Swift’s documentaries, including “Miss Americana” and “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour.”
A peek into the syllabus reveals that the January 24th class will focus on selected songs from Taylor Swift’s debut album, including “Tim McGraw,” “Teardrops on My Guitar,” “Picture to Burn,” and “Our Song.” The course is open to all Harvard students, Swifties and non-Swifties alike, presenting a unique opportunity to learn while exploring Taylor’s music.
Harvard’s initiative follows in the footsteps of other universities worldwide. Two months ago, Queen Mary University of London introduced a program inspired by Swift, exploring whether her lyrics should be studied similarly to literary giants like William Shakespeare or Charles Dickens.
Dr Clio Doyle, leading the module, emphasized analyzing Swift’s work in the context of critical theory, politics, and history.
While Harvard is not the pioneer in dissecting Swift’s lyrics and cultural impact, it joins the ranks of other institutions, including Ghent University in Belgium, University of Texas at Austin, Rice University, Berklee College of Music, University of California at Berkeley, New York University, and Stanford University, in recognizing the academic merit of studying the pop sensation’s contributions.
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