“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?