NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ (CBS) – Whether you deemed her Grammy performance an expression of modern feminism or merely offensive, superstar Beyoncé has established herself as a major figure on America’s cultural landscape.
Now, New Jersey’s Rutgers University has declared her so fascinating it’s dedicating an entire course to the signer.
Taught by doctoral candidate and lecturer Kevin Allred, “Politicizing Beyoncé” will apparently use the singer’s music and career to explore the overarching politics of race, gender and sexuality in America.
“This isn’t a course about Beyoncé’s political engagement or how many times she performed during President Obama’s inauguration weekend,” Allred tells Rutgers Today.
Instead, Allred says his interest in teaching a course centered on Jay-Z’s better half came about during his semesters teaching Women’s Studies 101 at Rutgers.
“She’s had a long history of girl power, feminine empowerment in her music,” Allred said.
In this latest course offering, readings from black feminists like Alice Walker and Sojourner Truth will be paired with Beyoncé’s videos, and Allred expects discussions about other modern vocalists to be a part of the class as well.
CBS 3’s Natasha Brown spoke with Allred via Skype Thursday night.
He says the class delves into the history of the black feminist movement in the U.S. and the impact pop culture has on society.
“It’s in the Women’s and Gender Studies Department so anyone interested in women’s studies, African American studies, or even history, you’re going to get something from the course.”
Allred says he’ll use examples from Beyoncé’s music to spark student discussions.
“Songs like ‘Single Ladies’ coming out at a time when a lot of same-sex marriage debates were happening. ‘If I Were A Boy,’ a song that has a lot of back and forth in terms of gender roles. Also ‘Flawless’ she explicitly claims feminism,” Allred said.
Allred admits he’s a fan of the superstar’s music and believes Beyoncé is a powerful role model.
Rutgers says the course will be offered in summer 2014, with two sections open to students.