Over eight universities across the United States, most recently Harvard, have taken the lyric “Honey, life is just a classroom” a little too seriously.
American singer-songwriter Taylor Alison Swift has been one of the most popular musicians since her career began after releasing her self-titled debut album in 2006 at just 16 years old. Now, colleges are fiending to roll out courses about a multitude of topics related to Billboard Music’s Woman of the Decade and Time Magazine’s Person of the Year.
Enchanted by Swift, these colleges offer themed courses on the 12-time Grammy Award winner that focus on everything from her successful entrepreneurship skills and bond with her audience to studying the meaning behind her intricate song lyrics. However, the timing of these courses and enthusiasm from universities begs the question: Is it really necessary for colleges to teach classes about Taylor Swift?
Swift’s influence on pop culture and reinvention of the meaning behind a superstar is undeniable. The Pennsylvania native has proven herself to be a prominent cultural figure in the 21st century this year with her constant success in music and world-renowned “Eras Tour.” The recurring battle her audience will continue to fight for concert tickets, merchandise sales, documentary viewings and limited-edition songs is something out of this world.
It makes sense schools would offer a course on the artist. Considering how captivating the world of Swifties and Swift herself is, high enrollment numbers are guaranteed.
While courses across each universities have unique syllabi, they all share the same concept: the impact of Taylor Swift on society. However, between the universities listed, only one is in the top 10 colleges known for entertainment and media education.
Beyond knowing how captivating Swift and her body of work is, do these universities have enough acclaim to be teaching about her rise of fame and prominence?
Swift is insanely popular right now, teetering on the brink of overexposure. The media dissects every move she makes and then proceeds to study it, both fans and critics alike. This happened most recently with words she mouthed at the Chiefs vs. Packers NFL game.
Educators and university administrators are aware of her prominence as the Eras Tour itself has managed to garner millions of heartstrings and dollars across the globe. The fact that those who didn’t attend her shows were able to feel her presence through grainy Instagram and TikTok live streams in the comfort of their own homes speaks volumes.
A report surveyed by ECMC Group found Gen Z college students see a different future for themselves regarding education and work. They want to challenge the typical four-year degree and design of higher education.
The idea of having Swift as the main subject of a course will introduce students to a new approach in education.
Harvard University is teaching their class under the English department, taught by professor Stephanie Burt for the first time in the spring of 2024. Titled “Taylor Swift & Her World,” nearly 300 students have enrolled, and many more are expected to be on the waitlist. The course focuses on the star’s upbringing, career trajectory and the comparison of her songwriting and lyrics to those of novelists such as James Weldon Johnson and Willa Cather.
On the other hand, the University of California-Berkeley is set to offer their business students an inside look at her entrepreneurial skills and how her artistry has skyrocketed her network from $550 million to $1.1 billion since the beginning of 2023. “Artistry and Entrepreneurship: Taylor’s Version,” will be offered in the spring of 2024 at the Haas School of Business.
Swift dominated 2023, making it by far her biggest year. From selling out stadiums on her 146-stop Eras Tour to re-releasing her third and fifth studio albums “Speak Now” and “1989,” respectively, she is unstoppable. Those constant career wins ultimately led to Swift being named TIME Magazine’s 2023 Person of the Year.
While there may never be a specific answer as to why universities decided to add classes exploring the global icon, it’s safe to say that no one is complaining. In fact, it might be time the University of Wisconsin-Madison considers to follow in Harvard’s footsteps.
But… are they ready for it?
Hana Razvi is a junior studying journalism and strategic communication. Do you agree that universities should be offering courses based on Taylor Swift? Send all comments to email@example.com