Miley Cyrus to be Studied in New University Course

Skidmore College in upstate New York has announced that as part of this summer’s available curriculum, students will be able to enroll in a course entitled “The Sociology of Miley Cyrus: Race, Class, Gender and Media.” The new course, which has three students registered, will be taught by assistant professor Carolyn Chernoff and will meet three times a week for two-and-a-half hours. That’s nearly eight hours of Miley a week.

While that’s probably too much Miley, I think you could actually learn a few things in the class. Chernoff’s intent is not for students to learn to twerk or the proper way to stick out your tongue; instead, she wants to view the cultural phenomenon of Miley from a sociology perspective. “From Disney tween to twerking machine, Miley Cyrus has grown up in the public eye, trying on and discarding very different identities on-screen and off,” said Chernoff reading the course description. “She provides rich examples for analyzing aspects of intersectional identities and media representation.”

Ever since Miley’s VMA performance, it seems we’ve all become fixated on the former Disney star and the transformation of her personal brand. Since then, the media and people of all generations have been abuzz sharing their opinions of Miley. Many say they don’t like her,  myself included, but we still talk about her at length, tweet about her, listen to her music, watch her videos and attend her concerts. Studying this cultural fascination would be interesting. I think there are actually many things we might learn studying our society through this lens. Here are some things I think we could learn using Miley as subject matter:

  • How female pop stars are viewed differently in the media vs male pop stars
  • The process of reinventing your personal brand
  • The different standards for sexuality in performance between males and females
  • How marketing contributes to the success and trajectory of an artist’s career

And that’s just to name a few. Students at Skidmore can expect rigorous coursework and must have taken an intro to Sociology course to enroll. I’m certainly curious to hear how the class is received by students this summer. Overall, it sounds like it will be a truly fascinating way to study sociology, providing real world examples and endless topics for conversation and debate.

So what do you think? Would you take the class? Is Miley really worth studying? Let us know in the comments below!