Someday, You Might Be Able To Major In Beyoncé
Back when I was in college, I was amped about any course involving film. Because, what’s better than watching movies in class and then talking about them with a group? A class about Beyoncé?
Well, Rutgers University did just that, by developing a course called “Politicizing Beyoncé” in their department of Women’s and Gender Studies. Based on the curriculum, it seems to be more about race, gender and sexual politics and less about figuring out a group dance to “Single Ladies”. And while you might think a pop culture class about a recent icon might not be worthy of your tuition money, it’s actually a great way to analyze the roles that pop culture and powerful women have on society today. Tests won’t be about memorizing lyrics, but will be about whether or not Beyoncé is a modern day feminist, and what feminism truly means. In fact, the class will choose to supplement Beyoncé videos and lyrics with readings from black feminists.
Rutgers isn’t the first school to offer courses that mix education and media icons of today. For example, a class at Georgetown called “The Sociology of Hip-Hop: The Urban Theodicy of Jay-Z” studies Bey’s husband, and a class focused around Lady Gaga exists over at the University of Southern California, with a course description that states that “the central objective… is to unravel some of the sociologically relevant dimensions of the fame of Lady Gaga. Specific attention will be devoted to the role of: business and marketing; entertainment law; the old and new media; fans and live shows; gay culture; religion and political activism; sex and gender; and the city of New York.” McDaniel College has offered a course called “South Park and Contemporary Social Issues”, which aims to teach students how to analyze and critically think through a lot of the hot topics of conversation that the show helps promote.
While these classes are probably quite popular with students, it’s likely that they’re not developed for a student to walk away with an easy A. In fact, they probably break down a lot of aspects about our pop icons that the average person doesn’t often think about – for example, instead of labeling Beyoncé’s clothes as a “Hit” or “Miss”, students can figure out what type of message might have been sent based on her particular choice of apparel. With Bey’s course, doctoral student Kevin Allred says he’s seeking to help students think more critically about media consumption in general.
What do you think about the recent trend in pop culture college courses? What would your ideal pop culture course be? If you’ve had the privilege of taking a course like this at your university, we’d love to hear all about it!
Featured image via ShutterStock/Debby Wong