Want to Take a Course on Beyonce?

January 26, 2012  |  

 

I know Beyonce STANS think they know everything there is to know about Bey, but a Rutgers PhD student and lecturer is using the singer’s career to take an interesting look at American culture. Kevin Allred has developed a course called “Politicizing Beyonce” that will explore how the R&B singer can be a messenger for social change.

“This isn’t a course about Beyonce’s political engagement or how many times she performed during President Obama’s inauguration weekend,” Allred told Rutger’s Focus publication. “Rather, the performer’s music and career are used as lenses to explore American race, gender, and sexual politics.”

The course is said to pair Beyonce’s music videos and lyrics with writings from distinguished women’s rights activists and authors you’d never expect to see grouped together like Alice Walker, Bell Hooks, Toni Morrison, and Sojourner Truth. Topics will cover whether Beyonce’s racy performances are empowering or stereotypical, the extent of the star’s control over her own aesthetic, and her alter ego, Sasha Fierce.

“She certainly pushes boundaries,” Allred said. “While other artists are simply releasing music, she’s creating a grand narrative around her life, her career, and her persona.”

You can’t deny that fact, but you can question whether celebrities and pop stars are appropriate for academic discussion. Some educators argue that they are not, but Allred disagrees.

“It’s important to shift students away from simply being consumers of media toward thinking more critically about what they’re engaging on a regular basis.When students don’t respond to theory or dense readings, it’s often easier to see things play out in the world around them.”

While I can’t imagine having to talk and write about Beyonce two to three times a week for 10 weeks or more, I think Allred has come up with an interesting concept to encourage students to think critically about the entertainment icons around us and just how much of an impact they have on society.

What do you think about this course? Would you take it?

Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.

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