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Harvard University to offer course focusing on global influence of Taylor Swift's music

By Melanie Uson Published Nov 29, 2023 2:25 pm

Apart from conquering big stages around the globe, it seems like American pop star Taylor Swift is conquering college curriculums too as prominent universities around the globe, including Harvard University, will offer a course focusing on her global influence, specifically on politics and culture.  

Dubbed Taylor Swift and Her World, the course will be offer under the university's English Department and aims to dive into the American pop star’s music to explore its political and cultural influence today. 

According to Professor Stephanie Burt—a Swiftie who proposed and will spearhead the class—the course will explore the pop star’s artistry in the “broader context of American art and literature” by closely looking into her well-documented career, songwriting and by dissecting her catalog, including her shift from country music to pop, hit songs, and re-recordings, among others. 

“Taylor Swift is someone who establishes complicated and changing relationships to the idea of Americanness and to the idea of white Americanness and of middle America,” Burt said in her interview with The Crimson. 

Some of the required readings include Willa Cather’s The Song of the Lark, which features a story of a female artist, and James Weldon Johnson’s The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, which explores themes of race and class in America's post-Reconstruction era, among other literature where students will be taught “how to think about white texts, Southern texts, transatlantic texts, and queer subtexts.”

“We are lucky enough to be living in a time when one of our major artists is also one of the most famous people on the planet,” Burt said. “Why would you not have a course on that?” 

Burt hopes the course will spark engagement and will “speak personally” to her students.  

“Taylor Swift is a good way to think about what it’s like to have a lot of eyes on you and to wonder what you do with your privilege,” she said. “To look around and ask, ‘I’m pretty ambitious and I got to this place when I was pretty young. What do I do next? What do I do with all this attention?’” 

The lecture course will be officially offered in Spring 2024.