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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  • Vag Owner (@ProudVagOwner)

    not a beyonce fan, but i don’t mind the course. universities have courses focusing on all type of people, and while i do not think beyonce herself is important enough to have a course about her the things she represents and the meanings behind her actions are. so if they have to use her name to attract students to learn important theory, then fine.

  • Beyonce performance is disrespectful on the media and it needs to stop! Her and Jay-Z is all about showing off every material thing they money can buy from a boat to Blue Ivy shoes and the public is so sick of them. One thing for sure is, Beyonce will never have the class Tina Turner and the rest of the old schoool divas succeeded!

    • raah

      So true-they were aware of the controversy in the Anna Mae lyric, making light of domestic violence. But she goes ahead and sings it aloud with him during the performance as if to say they really don’t care. It was truly sickening, immature, and careless. Not another penny I spend will go towards that “empire”

  • Micheal

    DRUNK IN LOVE GARBAGE! Where was her daughter when she was riding that chair on stage gearing up to hunch on JAY-Z with that strip up her butt? These today young BUCKS think this is awesome!

  • Lola

    What’s so interesting about Beyonce? She’s just an average singer who performs in skimpy outfits like many other US female singers. It’s not like she took a political or ethical stance that is unpopular or controversial in mainstream media. If she was pro-Palestinian or an out and proud black atheist, I would be the first the say she has cojones. But I really don’t see what so fascinating about Beyonce talking about her sex life with JayZ. She knows sex sells. She can disguise it as empowerment but at the end of the day she’s not different from Rihanna, Shakira, Miley and all the half naked female singers which have become the norm. Sex sells.

  • SoPrissy

    Wow, I wasn’t going to comment but after reading the mostly negative comments I think there needs to be some balance. First, Beyonce is overtly sexual and comfortable in her own skin. What’s wrong with that? I think that black women for the most part are sexually repressed and very afraid about their sexuality. Even in conversations with friends and family about sex black women want to seem like they don’t enjoy being sexual. You can be a Christian, black, and sexy. Second, black women constantly complain about Beyonce’s complexion (I don’t hear any other ethnic group talking about her complexion). Beyonce is light skin and beautiful as is her momma who she looks like and probably grandmomma too etc. I think alot of criticism about Beyonce’s looks stems from jealously frankly. Yes, many men think Beyonce is beautiful; yes, she has been on multiple magazine covers; yes, she is the face of a major cosmetics company. Again she is a very beautiful celebrity so isn’t it expected? Ok she dyes her hair blonde. So what? Is it hurting you? She looks better blonde dark hair doesn’t highlight her features as well. While blonde hair doesn’t occur frequently in black people, there are blacks with naturally blonde hair. Dying your hair a particular hair color doesn’t mean someone is trying to be another race. Third, Beyonce is an adult woman who is married and obviously enjoys the physical relationship she has with her husband. Again this goes back to sexuality. People are often so uncomfortable hearing married women talk about enjoying sex. Damn, someone needs to say they are married, happy, and getting their freak on with their husband. If you are married and not happy about your sex life that’s on you not Beyonce. Hell, your husband would be extremely thankful if you would explore your sexuality with him. If you can’t take off your “I’m married now, I have to be respectable” mask for your husband and be yourself, then what kind of life do you have. Beyonce is a feminist whether you like it or not. Just because she’s beautiful, married, and sexy doesn’t mean she doesn’t believe in the economic, political, and social equality of the sexes, which is the definition of a feminist.