By the time a handful of students at the University of Texas at Austin are done with this upcoming semester, they will know it all too well Taylor Swift’s discography. The school recently unveiled a new liberal arts course, taught by English professor Elizabeth Scala, centered on the “Taylor Swift Songbook,” which will be available to students this fall.
According to the online description for the course, titled Literary Contests and Contexts – The Taylor Swift Songbook, the star’s work will be taught alongside the work of famous poets including Chaucer, Shakespeare, Wyatt, Coleridge, Keats, Dickinson and Plath. Notably, the required lyrics include the four most recent albums from the 11-time Grammy winner — Red (Taylor’s version), Lover, folklore and always — and a Spotify account is recommended.
“This course uses the songwriting of pop music icon Taylor Swift to introduce critical reading and research methods—essential skills for working in English literature and other humanities disciplines,” the description reads. “We focus on Swift’s music and the cultural contexts in which she and her career are set, and consider frameworks for understanding her work, such as poetic form, style and history, alongside various themes and theoretical questions important to contextualization while we practice nearby and deep reading, evaluating secondary sources, and building strong arguments.”
Students are assessed based on four written assignments and class participation in discussions and debates.
“I want to tease out a little bit of what Swift fans can already do at a sophisticated level, with a different vocabulary, and then show them how Swift actually draws on richer literary traditions in her songwriting, both contemporary and formal in terms of how she uses references, metaphors and skillful manipulations of words,” Professor Scala said in an interview Tuesday (August 23) of the University of Texas at Austin official site.
With the new course, UTA becomes the latest school to join a burgeoning trend of installing Swift-themed courses. New York University offered a course last spring that explored entrepreneurship and the pop star’s relationship to the music industry and society in general, and by the end of the same semester she was NYU’s inaugural spokesperson.
Hear the best of Taylor Swift on Apple Music and Spotify.