By the time a handful of University of Texas at Austin students are done with this upcoming semester, they’re going to be all too well versed in Taylor Swift‘s discography. The school recently unveiled a new liberal arts course taught by English professor Elizabeth Scala that will focus on the 32-year-old singer-songwriter’s decades-spanning songbook, available to students starting this fall.
According to the online description for the course — titled Literary Contests and Contexts — The Taylor Swift Songbook — the star’s work will be taught alongside that of famous poets such as Chaucer, Shakespeare, Wyatt, Coleridge, Keats, Dickinson and Plath. Required texts specifically include the 11-time Grammy winner’s four most recent albums — Red (Taylor’s Version), Lover, Folklore and Evermore — and a Spotify account is recommended.
“This course uses the songwriting of pop music icon Taylor Swift to introduce literary critical reading and research methods — basic skills for work in English literature and other humanities disciplines,” the description reads. “Focusing on Swift’s music and the cultural contexts in which it and her career are situated, we’ll consider frameworks for understanding her work, such as poetic form, style, and history among various matters and theoretical issues important to contextualization as we practice close and in-depth reading, evaluating secondary sources, and building strong arguments.”
Students will be evaluated with four writing assignments as well as class participation in discussions and debates.
“I want to take what Swift fans can already do at a sophisticated level, tease it out for them a bit with a different vocabulary, and then show them how, in fact, Swift draws on richer literary traditions in her songwriting, both topically but also formally in terms of how she uses references, metaphors, and clever manipulations of words,” Scala said in a Tuesday (Aug. 23) interview on UTA’s website.
With the new course, UTA becomes the latest school to join in on a budding trend of installing Swift-themed courses. New York University offered a course last spring examining the pop star’s entrepreneurship and relationship to the music industry and society in general, and at the end of that same semester, she was NYU’s commencement speaker.
“I’ll be showing students that these operations and interpretive moves one makes when reading her songs are appropriate to all forms of writing,” Scala continued. “All of the interesting contexts for literature are alive in [Swift’s] work right now.”
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