Taylor Swift Entering Literary Canon at Colleges

Ghent University in Belgium has a serious literature course coming up in the fall
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 21, 2023 2:53 PM CDT
Taylor Swift Entering Literary Canon at Colleges
Taylor Swift performs during "The Eras Tour," Monday, Aug. 7, 2023, at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles.   (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

It's not the first college course centered on the songs of Taylor Swift, but it might be one of the more ambitious. A professor at Ghent University in Belgium is offering a class called "Literature (Taylor's Version)," a play on the singer's recent song releases, reports the Guardian. Dr. Elly McCausland says she has been besieged by requests to join the class this fall not only by students at the university but by non-students around the world. Those who make the roster should know they'll also be reading Chaucer, Shakespeare, Sylvia Plath, Charlotte Bronte, and Margaret Atwood, and drawing parallels between their work and the lyrics of Swift.

"Highly prolific and autobiographical in her songwriting, Swift makes frequent allusions to canonical literary texts in her music," reads the class syllabus. "Using Swift's work as a springboard, we will explore, among other topics, literary feminism, ecocriticism, fan studies, and tropes such as the anti-hero." McCausland, who also authors the "Swifterature" blog, tells CNN she got the idea for the class when listening to the singer's recent album, Midnights.

"There's a song on there called 'The Great War,' which uses the First World War as an analogy for heartbreak," she says. "That made me think of Sylvia Plath's poem 'Daddy,' in which she uses the Holocaust to discuss her troubled relationship with her father. ... This appropriation of historical pain and war as a metaphor (for love and loss)— I started thinking about other literary parallels and that's where the course came from." Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times notes that a student-led class on Swift will be offered at Stanford in the spring. (More Taylor Swift stories.)

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