With more than 252 million records sold, Taylor Swift is one of the world’s most successful artists today. Their music has had a lasting impact on the country and pop genre of the present day, their hits regularly land in the top ten of the charts and break every record.

A professor at the University of Ghent in Belgium knows that there is more to her songs than musical sophistication. She teaches the literature course “Literature: Taylor’s Version”, which explores the history and footprint of English literature, poetry and poetry. In addition to classics such as “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Brontë or “Romeo and Juliet” by William Shakespeare, the elective course also – or primarily – analyzes and interprets Swift’s works.

For the person responsible for the course, Professor Elly McCausland, is certain: “Shakespeare addressed the same questions in his works as Taylor Swift does today.” She wants to show students that literary texts – even if they may seem inaccessible at first – become accessible when viewed from a different perspective. Her goal: to use Swift’s songs to make writings from yesteryear understandable so they can be deciphered on a new level.

There are countless examples of this in the literature. Speaking to The Guardian, McCausland explains that Swift’s 2022 song “The Great War” is reminiscent of a 1965 poem by American writer Sylvia Plath, which tells of war, struggle and battle, about pain and suffering to process grief. 2020’s “Mad Woman,” on the other hand, bears parallels to Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s 1892 short story “The Yellow Wallpaper,” which deals with patriarchy and mental health issues. “Then I thought, why not talk about it?” McCausland said.

And the professor’s idea is bearing fruit. “I’ve never had so many emails from excited students asking if they can take the course,” she says. Among the inquiries were even interested people who are not even enrolled at the university. The idea of ​​bringing Swift into the classroom isn’t a new one, though. A growing number of US universities are bringing Swift into their classes, including New York University, which has a course examining Swift’s “attractions and dislikes” through their lyrics. According to McCausland, what sets the musician apart: Her ability to switch between different styles while writing very intimate lyrics that speak to the collective experiences of humanity.

Incidentally, Swift also knows that her music “only” serves to convey her own feelings and thoughts. She herself once said: “My voice is just a means of getting my lyrics across.” She adapts her writing tools depending on the project. She could write a 19th-century sonnet with a quill, a modern personal story with a fountain pen, and a glitter gel pen as a tool for light-hearted, upbeat songs.

Despite all the details, which will surely make the hearts of “Swifties” beat faster, McCausland also emphasizes that the new course is academically sound and designed and thus also appeals to students who do not like the artist. She points out, “Not all Swifties are definitely going to get together to fangirl for three hours every Monday.”

Quelle: “The Guardian”