New Penn State Berks course examines Taylor Swift’s musical and cultural impact

Taylor Swift moves on the field after the NFL Super Bowl 58 football game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, Feb. 11, 2024, in Las Vegas. The Chiefs won 25-22. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

By Patrick Berkery

February 12, 2024

The course Taylor Swift, gender, and communication, will be offered for the fall 2024 semester, and will focus on Swift’s cultural and musical impact and her portrayal in the media.

Are you ready for it, Penn State students?

Penn State Berks announced that the school will offer a Taylor Swift course called Taylor Swift, gender, and communication for the fall 2024 semester.

The course will have room for 100 students, with 50 spots reserved for current students at Penn State Berks, and the other 50 available to incoming first-year students.

While classes examining both the musical and business aspects of Swift’s career have been offered previously at other colleges, Penn State Berks said its Swift curriculum will be unique, in that it will focus on Swift’s cultural and musical impact and her portrayal in the media.

The course will examine the historical intersections of music and politics, and gendered expectations of female performers with an emphasis on the media’s treatment of Swift as she shifted from country to pop music, challenges faced by young female musicians as they move from adolescence to adulthood, and the media’s tendency to pit successful women against each other.

Taylor Swift, gender, and communication, which will be taught in Swift’s hometown of Wyomissing, will be cross-listed as a communication arts and sciences and a women’s studies course.

The course was developed and will be taught by Michele Ramsey, associate professor of communication arts and sciences and of women’s, gender, and sexuality studies.

Ramsey admittedly hasn’t been a longtime “Swiftie.” However, she took an interest in Swift when she noticed the amplified online criticism of Swift’s songwriting, accusations of her lip synching, and Swifties dancing in the movie theaters and at her performances — which inspired her to create this course.

“When you watch social media posts of the concerts or ‘Eras Tour’ movie screenings, you see so many important things happening,” Ramsey said. “You see legions of women — grandmothers, moms, young women, teens, tweens, younger girls and those who don’t fit into our strict social constructions of gender and sex identity — daring to take up space to enjoy something they love together.”




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