Published on February 4, 2014 | by Callum McCarthy

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US university offers ‘Politicising Beyoncé’ degree

Headshot of beyonce

Beyonce is one of the most famous women in the world [Flickr: Jason H. Smith]

Not content to let Mrs Knowles-Carter press on with global domination, Rutgers University now offers a course entitled Politicising Beyoncé – a chance to study race, gender and sexual politics using the former Destiny’s Child singer as a lens.

Beyoncé’s transformation from R&B queen to global feminist icon has seen her become arguably the most famous woman in the world and the course explores how her music and image influences women and society in general.

Topics include the songstress’ use of her alter ego ‘Sasha Fierce’ and whether the use of her body is empowering or degrading, using her music videos and lyrics alongside black feminist literature to analyse her impact on women.

Keith Allred, lecturer at Rutgers’ university and the creator of Politicising Beyoncé said in a press release: “While other artists are simply releasing music, she’s creating a grand narrative around her life, her career, and her persona.” 

Softer approach

Allred denies that using a celebrity as a topic of study devalues the subject, arguing that a softer approach to intellectual topics can be more engaging and accessible.

“It’s important to shift students away from simply being consumers of media and 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.” 

Knowles-Carter has courted both praise and criticism for her influence on women, generating interest and adoration unlike any other celebrity on the planet.

“It’s important to shift students away from simply being consumers of media and toward thinking more critically about what they’re engaging on a regular basis” Keith Allred

Ashley Alexander-Birch, a BA Sports Journalism student at LCC, says: “She’s done everything for herself. It’s about female strength and empowerment – that women can do well and women can be the boss. I just think she wants to inspire females to not let society grind you down.”

Zoe Greening, a BA Fashion Contour student at LCF, states: “I think that she’s trying to represent feminism, but some of her points aren’t well thought out or considered. However, if it makes a young girl reconsider what feminism is and want to become a feminist, that’s only a good thing.”

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