Taylor Swift: The Unexpected Academic Sensation


Taylor Swift, the music sensation, might be busy ruling the charts, but did you know she’s also taken over college campuses? Yep, universities all across the US, from big names like Harvard to the University of Texas at Austin, are offering courses about Swift’s music and life. It’s a bit mind-blowing, isn’t it?

Swift’s Unexpected Influence

So, Taylor Swift once said she’d be into business or something where words and ideas are a big deal if she wasn’t rocking the stage. Now, her tunes and the persona she brings have become hot topics in classrooms. I mean, seriously, schools are diving into her decade-plus journey in the spotlight.

Arizona State had a whole thing about the psychology behind Swift’s songs, while the University of Florida is getting ready to explore women’s roles in music starting with Swift and moving on to legends like Dolly Parton and Aretha Franklin.

Even at UC Berkeley, they’re doing a business course inspired by how Swift crafts her own image and owns her work. And of course, she’s the star in English classes, with folks comparing her music to the big shots of Western literature, like Shakespeare and Yeats.

Swift: The Trojan Horse of Academia

Swift’s like this sneaky academic trick. Professors toss her name into the course description, and bam! Suddenly, students are all ears. Instructors know using her name makes students more interested in learning about stuff they might’ve found boring before. Elizabeth Scala, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin, is bringing Swift into her literary studies course next semester, using her songbook as a major text.

The Swift Effect on Students

The response from students? It’s been wild! At the University of Florida, Melina Jimenez, who’s teaching a Swift course, said her class filled up within seconds of registration opening. Teachers reckon Swift’s Taylodoes something many academics struggle with—getting students pumped to learn. And let’s face it, comparing Chaucer to Swift makes writing essays about old-timey poets a whole lot more fun.

Swift: From Superstar to Classroom Hero

Before these courses started, Swift was already a big deal in the lives of some instructors. Scala’s daughter is a hardcore Swiftie, and they chat about Taylor’s songs, like those “Taylor’s Version” vault tracks. Jimenez, on the other hand, overheard her students going gaga over Swift stuff but didn’t quite get what the fuss was about.

Swift’s music is like the last big shared thing everyone’s into. It’s super personal but also relatable to just about anyone. Scala used to hook her students with “Harry Potter” tales, but she got tired of the same old. Then, in 2021, Swift dropped the extended version of “All Too Well,” and Scala’s mind was buzzing with ideas for her class. Suddenly, Romeo and Juliet started to feel fresh when she linked it to a Swift song that mentioned the star-crossed lovers.

Swift’s Impact Beyond Music

Jimenez at UF wants to explore why Swift is such a big deal, especially after her ‘1989’ peak. From ‘Folklore’ to ‘Evermore’ and ‘Taylor’s Versions,’ Swift’s music keeps evolving, and her fame keeps skyrocketing. She’s breaking records left and right, and her impact on culture is massive.

Questioning Swift’s Legacy

These classes aren’t just about fangirling over Swift. At Rice University, Katherine Jeng’s class digs into the good and not-so-good about Taylor, discussing things like accusations of using LGBTQ support for profit. They want to show it’s okay to be a fan while acknowledging her flaws.

Swift: More than Just a Pop Star

Ava Jeffs at Stanford sees Swift’s albums as complete storybooks, each with its own world and characters. Swift’s songs have been a part of Jeffs’ life, so much so that she wrote her college application essay on Swift’s “Clean.” Now, she’s prepping to teach a course about Swift’s storytelling through music. Jeffs feels Swift’s words help people process things in their own lives, and that’s something she aims to share with her students.

So, yeah, Taylor Swift might be dominating music charts, but she’s also the surprise superstar of college courses, inspiring minds and making academics fun for students.