Beyonce“Politicizing Beyoncé” is once again on the summer course schedule for undergraduates at Rutgers University.  The class is part of the Women and Gender Studies Department at the prestigious school and will again be taught by PhD candidate Kevin Allred.

The 17-time Grammy Award winner is the subject of the course, but it’s not just about her music.  “The performer’s music and career are used as lenses to explore American race, gender, and sexual politics. Allred pairs Beyoncé’s music videos and lyrics with readings from the Black feminist canon, including the writings of bell hooks, Alice Walker, and even abolitionist Sojourner Truth,” read the initial statement about the class.

With the release of Beyoncé’s “surprise” album last year, the overt feminist musings on it and the intense scrutiny of the album and videos by scholars and pop culture pundits, the course should be that much richer in content.

Being the inspiration for an academic course is nothing new for the Carter family. Professor Michael Eric Dyson taught a class at Georgetown called “The Sociology of Hip-Hop: The Theodicy of Jay-Z.”  Other black music stars have also dabbled in academia. The Nasir Jones Fellowship at Harvard’s W.E.B Du Bois Institute helps students who excel in hip hop related arts. New York University has had both Swiss Beatz and Questlove as professors and RZA has tried his hand at teaching high school students.

What do you think about this academic discourse on pop culture figures? Do you see the value in such courses?

Follow Demetria Irwin on Twitter at @Love_Is_Dope and connect with her on Facebook.

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  • I wonder how many credits do students get for classes like this. It’s crazy how college students are learning about people who didn’t go to college.

    • RJ

      Or really even graduate from high school.

    • Ivory

      Malmcom X and Sojourner Truth didn’t go to college.

  • cheyenne

    I already know what the required reading will be for this course: The Emperor’s New Clothes.

  • Part French in Loreal Ad

    Is this the same Beyoncé that sang for Gaddafi’s son and when asked to return the “blood” money, she said she had already given it to charity? Let’s take a class on domestic violence and how it affects black women and black girls then play Drunk in Love in the class as an example of music that mocks domestic violence. That would be a class worth taking.

  • Child, Please

    I think in general, you shouldn’t have a feminist course centered around female celebrities, particularly those in the mainstream media. Their corporate shuffle undermines any rhetoric used to insert them into that dynamic on a singular level at least. If we were to study each of them and compare how corporate figures have sued women to perpetuate (or become the antithesis) certain ideals, I think that would be a good course. Focusing on just one person won’t give you a great scope of how feminism and entertainment overlap and contribute to societal pressures imposed upon women.

    • Child, Please

      I mean “used,” not “sued.”

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