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University of Florida offers ‘honors’ course on Taylor Swift

Harvard University also will study pop music star

University of Florida’s Honors Program is offering a course this upcoming semester on Swift – not esteemed author Jonathan Swift, but pop music star Taylor Swift.

Harvard University will also host a class this upcoming semester on the singer, as will several other universities. At least one school, the University of South Carolina, will use the course to teach students real skills about business.

“In this class, students will fearlessly jump then fall into 13 gorgeous weeks of discussing Taylor Swift’s discography, with a focus on her evergreen songwriting,” the UF course description states.

Students will also “draw parallels between Swift’s enchanting lyrics and works by other famous female masterminds such as Aretha Franklin, Billie Holiday, and Dolly Parton.”

The Honors Program course requires students to “write 2 online discussions posts” and see a musical about Gloria Estefan among other assignments.

Class instructor Melina Jimenez declined to comment on how students would apply the knowledge gained from this class and why the course is in the honors program. The university’s media relations team did not respond to the same questions sent twice in the past two and a half weeks.

Jimenez has an interest in promoting “diversity, equity, and inclusion,” according to her teaching philosophy. “In Florida, and in many locations around the nation, lawmakers are pushing back on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion efforts,” she wrote. This is likely in reference to Governor Ron DeSantis’ efforts to limit woke content in higher education and reorient state universities.

She wrote she uses “culturally responsive pedagogy” and makes sure to include LGBT authors. “I also choose articles by women, nonbinary, and LGBTQ+ writers, so that students are exposed to a range of ideas, and we can have uncomfortable conversations about using pronouns in a safe environment where they are encouraged to ask questions.”

Jimenez applies this DEI lens to the Swift course. “People have very strong reactions because she’s a woman,” the instructor told the student newspaper the Alligator. “She can sing about a topic and a man can sing about a topic and she gets all the hate, where men don’t get any reaction at all.”

Harvard also recently announced a “Taylor Swift and Her World” class for the upcoming spring semester.

“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,” instructor Stephanie Burton told the student newspaper. “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?’”

One course will use it to teach students about business and management

Other universities started following the Taylor Swift course trend, with one course using the singer as a way to teach about business and management.

Northeastern University and the University of South Carolina also announced that they will be teaching a Swift course.

Northeastern’s “Speak Now: Gender & Storytelling in Taylor Swift’s Eras” course will be taught in the upcoming spring semester. The course will focus on “how women’s literary and cultural influences on genre and narrative have shaped the artistry of Taylor Swift’s ten eras,” according to a university announcement.

USC’s “Life is Just a Classroom: Taylor’s Version” course will also be taught in the upcoming spring semester through its hospitality, retail and sport management college.

The course will focus on “Swift’s business acumen and her ‘agency as a woman’ in the music industry.”

This class is “a semester-long case study into the various business and management aspects of Swift’s career,” instructor Kate Blanton told The Fix via email. “The students enrolled seek careers in the retailing, hospitality and tourism, and entertainment management industries, so this course is aimed at strengthening the application of their knowledge to the industry using Swift as an example.”

“The motivation for this course was sparked by my own interest in digging deeper into the business side of Taylor Swift’s career,” Blanton said. “I was intrigued by her ability and motivations for re-recording her first six albums, her merchandising strategies, corporate sponsorships, concert experience, and the overall fan community.”

“I’ve been teaching in various capacities for 21 years,” Blanton said.

“Any time we have an opportunity to connect student learning with their real lives and things they are interested and care about, we are poised to give them an experience they will grow from and take with them to their future learning and careers.”

MORE: Academic conference to focus on ‘phenomenon’ of Taylor Swift

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About the Author
Rachel Lalgie -- University of Florida