Photo: Hello Giggles
Swifties, I think you need to transfer to Texas.
Austin’s University of Texas is handing students an opportunity to study Taylor Swift lyrics with works by some literary legends like Shakespeare, John Keats, and Robert Frost.
The school now offers an undergraduate course called “The Taylor Swift Songbook,” this fall under its liberal arts honors program. It comes after a Swift-themed class at New York University last spring that concluded with the singer giving a commencement speech.
In an interview with CNN, English Professor Elizabeth Scala said she chose Swift due to the pop star writing her own music, and the lyrics can aid to stress the same techniques from 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 get to study Swift’s songs with the writings of Western literary figures.
“They’ll be asked to analyze and contextualize common practices and problems across the centuries,” Scala stated.
Scala is a self-appointed Swiftie (a name fans of Swift call themselves) and stated that her objective is to educate students about literary traditions with a touch of a contemporary lens.
“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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Taylor Swift: A Literary Icon
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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