Photo: Hello Giggles
Swifties may like it in Texas.
The University of Texas at Austin gives students the chance to study the songs of Taylor Swift, alongside works by legendary literary figures such as Shakespeare, John Keats and Robert Frost.
Currently, the school offers an undergraduate course called The Taylor Swift Songbook, which will be offered this fall as part of the liberal arts honors program. This comes after the singer delivered remarks at a commencement exercise at New York University last spring following a Swift-themed class at the school.
In an interview with CNN, English Professor Elizabeth Scala said she chose Swift because the pop star writes her own music and the lyrics can help showcase the same techniques of classic poetry.
“This is a course on her songs as literary writing and the ways a popular and award-winning writer uses the same literary devices, figures, and tropes of traditional poetry in her work,” she stated. “It is not about celebrity or fame.”
Students will study Swift songs, as well as the writings of Western literary legends.
“They’ll be asked to analyze and contextualize common practices and problems across the centuries,” Scala stated.
Scala, a self-proclaimed Swiftie (as Swift fans call themselves), says her goal is to use a modern lens to educate students about literary traditions.
“I want to take what Swift fans can already do at a sophisticated level, tease it out for them a bit with a different vocabulary, and then show them how, in fact, Swift draws on richer literary traditions in her songwriting, both topically but also formally in terms of how she uses references, metaphors, and clever manipulations of words,” Scala stated.
“I’ll be showing students that these operations and interpretative moves one makes when reading her songs are appropriate to all forms of writing.”
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Literary Aspects of Swift’s Songs
And being contemporary, Scala has made an Instagram for the class where she uploads Swift trivia and asks questions to fans.
The class will mainly center on songs from Swift’s more recent albums. However, students are allowed to discuss older songs, according to Scala.
She added that nearly all the music is posted online, and the songs are accessible on Apple Music and Spotify, so students don’t have to spend money for the music.
The course will discuss gender, authenticity, fans’ influence on artists and writers, and how language history and linguistic traditions enhance the reading experience, per Scala.
“I think it’s important to connect the curriculum to the present, but I’m not willing to cede the past. This is my way of sneaking the older material back in with relevance,” she said.
This is not the university’s first introduced celebrity-themed class. In 2015, UT Austin made a class titled “Beyonce Feminism, Rihanna Womanism” to navigate Black feminism.
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