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Majoring in Beyoncé: Colleges Offering Pop Culture Courses

Would you take a pop culture class for college credit?

By Kathryn Knight Randolph

April 21, 2017

Majoring in Beyoncé: Colleges Offering Pop Culture Courses
Let’s be honest: Economics 101 can be a snooze-fest for most students (no offense to the Econ lovers) – which is why it’s so news-worthy when a college presents a course on Beyoncé or a Zombie Apocalypse. While a study of pop culture itself seemingly has nothing to do with academics whatsoever, it does point us toward topics for discourse – like arts, activism and cultural influence. USA Today College rounded up the coolest college courses on pop culture at the moment. Take a look: Northwestern University – Hamilton’s America If you were a student at Northwestern, you would not want to throw away your shot to take this course. The history class not only explores Alexander Hamilton’s role in the founding of the country but also how we remember history vis a vis Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. Is the musical an accurate picture of Hamilton’s life? This course explores all of that and more. Grinnell College – Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick Lamar has not only dominated the music scene; he’s bringing awareness and voice to racial inequality with his lyrics. The Kendrick Lamar course at Grinnell College examines his performances at the Grammy’s, contribution to the Black Lives Matter movement with his song “Alright” as well as all of his albums to uncover the relationship between the arts, politics, racism and identity in America. Rutgers University – Politicizing Beyoncé According to USA Today College, Rutgers offered this course in 2010. It examined the “contemporary U.S. society and its current gender, race, class and sexual politics by analyzing the music and career of Beyoncé Giselle Knowles Carter.” But Rutgers isn’t the only college to take on Beyoncé. During this school year alone, both University of Texas at San Antonio and Cal Poly have examined Beyoncé’s influence over politics, feminism and race through her latest album, Lemonade. University of Louisville – “Reel” Faith and Fantasy Religion: Exploring Religion in Game of Thrones While you could debate all day about who will eventually capture the throne, this course asks students to dialog about the religions of Westoros. The course will compare religions within the novels and television show while tying them to real-world religions and their significance. University of South Carolina – Lady Gaga and the Sociology of Fame In 2011, a professor at the University of South Carolina introduced a course all about Gaga. The course intended to “unravel some of the sociologically relevant dimensions of the fame of Lady Gaga with respect to her music and other artistic endeavors, with special attention for the role of: business and marketing strategies; the role of the old and new media; fans and live concerts; gay culture; religious and political themes; sex and sexuality; and the cities of New York and Hollywood.” University of Washington – The Politics of Kanye West: Black Genius and Sonic Aesthetics Kanye West is definitely an anomaly, and this course at the University of Washington seeks to explore his influence on music, fashion, politics and videography. With plenty of footage to watch, listen and read, this course may need more than just a single semester time allowance. See the full list of pop culture college courses on USA Today College.

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