Rutgers University, a real American learning institution and not just some bullshit online correspondence college, is offering a class on the world's most important pop singer ever in the history of time (DON'T TRY TO DEBATE ME ON THIS), Beyoncé.
Kevin Allred, a doctoral student and lecturer in the school's Department of Women's and Gender Studies teaches a class called "Politicizing Beyoncé."
"This isn't a course about Beyoncé's political engagement or how many times she performed during President Obama's inauguration weekend," he says. Rather, 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.
OMG WHY AM I NOT A COLLEGE STUDENT. I would ace the shit out of this class. I poked around Allred's course curriculum, but nowhere did I find any lesson plans incorporating Bootyliciousness or what to do when you are Crazy In Love. (Sorry folks, these are the best Beyonce music puns I could come up with late at night.)
True story; Latavia Roberson is the T.A. for this class. She's great, but she does not take any bullshit, so don't go to her with your "I just need a little more time with my paper" nonsense because she will have none of it.
OK, all kidding aside, this course comes from a rather serious and deeply personal place on Allred's part. Allred, who is currently working on a dissertation on how black female performers manipulate their vocal qualities, grew up as a gay white male in Utah, where he pored over black feminist texts, including Audre Lorde and Toni Morrison. He said he found himself identifying with their work "because racism, sexism, homophobia, and privilege are larger systems under which we all operate:"
Course topics include the extent of Beyoncé's control over her own aesthetic, whether her often half-naked body is empowered or stereotypical, and her more racy performances as her alter ego, "Sasha Fierce." In-class discussions often lead to other vocalists, including Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, Lady Gaga, and contemporary musicians who embrace the soul singing tradition like Adele and the late Amy Winehouse.
"She certainly pushes boundaries," Allred told Rutgers Today. "While other artists are simply releasing music, she's creating a grand narrative around her life, her career, and her persona."
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