Arts and Entertainment
Professor of Taylor Swift class at Harvard reveals why singer’s work is worthy of study
LOS ANGELES — A class being offered at Harvard on Taylor Swift next semester is officially titled “English 183ts. Taylor Swift and Her World.” A critic who will teach the course has revealed why it is worthy of study.
But when her class was announced last month, many began to wonder out loud if a “millennial pop star deserves this kind of treatment at a world-class university.”
Stephanie Burt, a literary critic who will teach the course at Harvard, penned a convincing argument in The Atlantic and deftly argued that students “benefit from studying art that they love — art new and old, art in many genres,” reports etonline.com.
It’s not the first time a Swift class is available at an institution of higher learning. Stanford, NYU and the University of Texas at Austin are just some of the universities offering similar courses.
The hour-long class at Harvard will aim to explore Swift’s many genres and the economic impact she’s had in cities across the world when she arrives to perform her Eras Tour. The class will also examine her catalogue (Taylor’s Version).
“We will learn how to think about illicit affairs, and hoaxes, champagne problems and incomplete closure. We will look at her precursors, from Dolly Parton to the Border Ballads, and at work about her (such as the documentary Miss Americana),” the class synopsis continues.
“And we will read literary works important to her and works about song and performance, with novels, memoirs and poems by (among others) Willa Cather, James Weldon Johnson, Tracey Thorn, and William Wordsworth.”
Burt says her students “will analyse Swift’s work, think in detail about it, maybe create footnotes to it, in order to see how the verbal skills and musical elements that move us are not just all in our head — they are choices Swift makes to communicate a particular message or feeling.”
Touting the Midnights singer’s writing as “witty” and “insightful,” Burt says it’s incumbent upon her to also help her students better understand Swift and her “oeuvre” with the help of novels by Willa Cather and James Weldon Johnson. The class will also dive into three centuries of “page-based poetry … on other topics central to Swift.”
In doing so, Burt hopes to “take advantage … of a room full of Swifties to introduce hundreds of students to these poems.”
If all goes well, “you might notice how many students will come for the Taylor and stay for the other writers involved,” Burt argues.
Famed author James Patterson on Saturday also weighed in on the Harvard course, and he says the class is a no-brainer.