She’s not a teacher, but Beyoncé can teach you something. Or at least that’s what Kevin Allred, a doctoral student and lecturer in Rutgers’ Department of Women’s and Gender Studies, is betting on with his new course “Politicizing Beyoncé.”
Wondering how the heck the singer that mused “who needs a degree when you’re schooling life?” fits into to political curriculum? Allred explained to Rutger’s Focus publication: “This isn’t a course about Beyoncé’s political engagement or how many times she performed during President Obama’s inauguration weekend. Rather, the performer’s music and career are used as lenses to explore American race, gender, and sexual politics.”
During the semester students will examine Bey’s music videos and lyrics alongside works from women’s rights activists and authors including Alice Walker, Bell Hooks, Toni Morrison and even abolitionist Sojourner Truth. Allred will challenge his class to ponder a range of topics, including whether Bey’s racy performances are empowering or stereotypical and the extent of her control over her own aesthetic and her alter ego, Sasha Fierce.
“It’s important to shift students away from simply being consumers of media toward thinking more critically about what they’re engaging on a regular basis,” Allred said. “When students don’t respond to theory or dense readings, it’s often easier to see things play out in the world around them.”
Bey’s other half, Jay-Z, has, been the subject of a popular Georgetown University course, “Sociology of Hip-Hop: Jay-Z,” taught by Michael Erick Dyson.
At least that’s one way for the Carters to get into a college classroom.