Queen’s English Department offers a Taylor Swift course

Queen’s English Department is launching a course this fall with Taylor Swift at the forefront.

In the fall of 2022, the department is offering a new course called “Taylor Swift’s Literary Legacy (Taylor’s Version)”, taught by doctoral student Meghan Burry. The subject is part of the department’s second-year cultural studies course.

The course will examine the literary and cultural impact of Swift’s works on 21st century society, using her texts, as well as the canonical works she alludes to in her music.

“We’re going to look at her as an author and a storyteller,” Burry said in an interview with The newspaper. “I want Swift’s voice and story to be front and center in the course.”

This is Burry’s first time teaching a class. She pitched her concept as part of the tutoring opportunity for fifth-year doctoral students in the English department.

The course, dubbed ENGL 294, has no prerequisites, so any Queen’s student in their second year or above can take it. Currently, 75 places are available.

Burry hopes the course will increase accessibility to literature, noting that the longer a text has been written, “the harder it is for students to identify with the art.”

“I think because Swift has such a huge following and following, I know it’s already accessible work,” she said.

The main texts that students will study are Swift’s own creations – her songs, music videos and documentaries. To supplement these texts, students will read standard works such as Romeo and Juliet and Gatsby the magnificent.

“One of the challenges of designing this course is cutting down on material. Swift has no shortage of literature to work with,” Burry said.

Throughout the summer, Burry will continue to sift through material to create the program. She said students will definitely watch “All Too Well (10 Minute Version)” and “Love Story.”

Burry said she was excited to investigate Swift’s older works, like Speak Now-the only album on which Swift is the sole writer.

“Taylor Swift fans often cling to an era,” Burry said. “I’m really excited to encourage students to step out of their comfort zone a bit.”

The course will also include discussions of the media portrayal of Swift as a writer without scientific merit. Burry hopes the course will prove that “couldn’t be further from the truth.”

She explained how literary scholars know Swift’s “easter eggs” as literary devices, like similes, metaphors, and allusions. According to Burry, this connection will be used to teach the younger generation about literary criticism.

“I’m really excited to get students excited about this,” she said. “Throughout the course, I hope [students] cultivate a more inclusive understanding of what literature is.

Burry said the response to this course was “ultimately quite positive,” but she noticed “quite a few” negative comments online questioning the course’s academic merit.

“If anything, it’s a good challenge [for] me entering the course,” Burry said.

“I’m very confident in the work I’ve already put into it. […] and I’m very confident in the material, and I’m just excited to see how it turns out.

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