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‘Politicizing Beyonce’: A new course offered at Rutgers University

Singer Beyonce poses in the press room during the 56th GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on January 26, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.
(Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Beyonce 101?

You know you’ve made it big when you become the subject of a college course. Of course performing at the Grammys and being known as a chart-topping pop star isn’t so shabby either. According to Rolling Stone on Jan. 29, Rutgers University will be offering a course on Beyonce. It will be called “Politicizing Beyoncé” and will use her music and career as an emphasis on “American race, gender and sexual politics.”

The sexual politics part is timely considering Beyonce’s recent performance at the 56th annual Grammy Awards. The “Drunk in Love” performance and lyrics caused a stir with parents who challenged its appropriateness during an early timeslot. The nature of the course that will be taught by Kevin Allred is an exploration of how she pushes the envelope while also being a feminist. He says in an interview with Rutgers Today, “This isn’t a course about Beyoncé’s political engagement or how many times she performed during President Obama’s inauguration weekend.”

He uses her music and career to bring in focus American race, gender and sexual politics by pairing her musical videos and lyrics with readings from some of the leaders of the Black Feminist movement, notably Alice Walker and Sojourner Truth.

What inspired the course is Beyonce’s ability to push boundaries. Allred says:

“While other artists are simply releasing music, she’s creating a grand narrative around her life, her career, and her persona. 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.”

The course will also explore “whether her often half-naked body is empowered or stereotypical.” Needless to say, students who attend this course will see Beyonce in a different light.

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