Launch of Taylor Swift Course The Clive Davis Institute at New York University has inaugurated its first-ever course on Taylor Swift, which began on January 26 and runs through March 9.
The course description states in part, “This course seeks to dissect both the appeal and aversions to Taylor Swift through close readings of her music and public discourse as it relates to her own progress as an artist and a celebrity.” The class explores analyses of pop music, fandom, media studies, whiteness, and power as they pertain to her image and the images of those who have come before and after her through texts, lectures, and other means. Along with these subjects, we’ll talk about American nationalism, copyright and ownership, and the ongoing effects of social media on the pop music industry.
According to a representative for the program, the class has a long waitlist and will be taught by Rolling Stone’s Brittany Spanos. It will cover Swift’s development as a creative music entrepreneur, the legacy of pop and country songwriters, discourses of youth and girlhood, and the politics of race in modern popular music. Although Swift has been asked to address the class, the outcome of that request is currently pending.
Launch of Taylor Swift Course The Davis Institute, which is run by seasoned music critic and musician Jason King, has featured classes from Questlove, “Dilla Time” author Dan Charnas, Q-Tip, renowned producer-engineer Bob Power, and many others.
1. Students will learn to dissect how Taylor Swift’s originality and songwriting have made her an enduring presence in a rapidly changing music industry; Students will get an understanding of and admiration for Taylor Swift as a creative music entrepreneur;
2. Students will gain knowledge of Swift’s influences from country and pop songwriters as well as discussions around “prodigies” in the annals of pop music.
3. Students will comprehend how the media and music industries frequently take advantage of debates about youth and girls.
4. Students will gain knowledge of the racial politics in modern popular music and learn to analyse whiteness in relation to Swift’s politics, songwriting, worldview, and interactions with other members of the larger cultural community;
5. Students will become more sophisticated in their understanding of the arts, critical thinking, writing, and research.
Variety quotes King as saying, “When Brittany originally offered the class, it was a no-brainer for me.” Although she is a fan of Taylor, she also knows how to contextualize her culturally and encourages students to consider her and her music through the lenses of gender, feminism, race, class, and other categories related to identity. This program aims to encourage students to think more deeply about Taylor and her music. I’ve watched her develop as a journalist and a person while she was a student of mine at NYU, and I’m thrilled to have her back.
“Teaching a course at Clive Davis has been a dream of mine ever since I attended NYU,” continues Spanos. As an undergrad, I enrolled in a number of the program’s Topics in Recorded Music classes, which laid the groundwork for my current position as a music journalist. Since I started my journalism career ten years ago, I have been covering Taylor Swift, and I have been a huge admirer of hers for even longer. Being able to impart my Sweetie knowledge to such a capable set of kids is really an honour. In the same way that Clive academics like Jason King, Vivien Goldman, and Joe Levy helped me, I intend to aid them in rethinking how to interact with one of the world’s most prominent and occasionally contentious stars.
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