Rutgers University Offers “Politicizing Beyoncé” Class — Would You Take It?
Beyoncé is many things to many people: designer, doting mother, diva, actress, Jay Z’s other half, and singer extraordinaire. Now, she’s fodder for a Women’s Studies course at prestigious Rutgers University. Wait, what?
According to Focus, Kevin Allred, the professor who created and teaches “Politicizing Beyoncé,” believes that the megastar is a social change agent.
“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.
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.
So is Beyoncé the Harriet Tubman or Rosa Parks of our generation? Or is this just another indication that our celebrity-obsessed society is getting out of control? Tell us what you think.