Sure she can upgrade you, but can Beyonce school you? Apparently, one professor at Rutgers University thinks so. Kevin Allred, a doctoral student and Womens Studies lecturer at Rutgers University teaches “Politicizing Beyonce,” a course that examines the songstress as a “social change agent.” There’s no denying the wide-reaching influence that Beyonce has had on countless cultures through her persona, music, and performances, all of which Allred intends to critically analyze through a lens of race, gender and sexual politics.
“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,” says Allred. “When students don’t respond to theory or dense readings, it’s often easier to see things play out in the world around them.” To contextualize Bey’s music videos and music, the professor also explores the works of fundamental Black feminist writers such as Alice Walker, abolitionist Sojourner Truth, and bell hooks. During class discussions, Allred and students also touch on the seemingly contradictory messages that Beyonce’s music conveys (i.e “Independent Woman” by day, catering wifey by night) in addition to the other influential singers such as Nina Simone, Adele, Billie Holiday and Lady Gaga.
Does Beyonce have a place in academia? Or is this simply a way of attracting students to a course?