There have been many great writers in our day, from Shakespeare to Robert Frost, Jane Austen to Nathaniel Hawthorne. Joining this list of accomplished intelects is one of the most acclaimed artists of this generation…Taylor Swift.
This fall, The University of Texas is going to be offering first year liberal arts undergraduate students “The Taylor Swift Songbook.” This class will be taught by Professor of English Elizabeth Scala and will consist of studying Swift’s lyrics along with works by Shakespeare, Keats, and frost.
Scala has said that part of what makes Taylor Swift songs such a good canvas for a literature course is that Swift is such an autobiographical and topical songwriter who draws on richer literary traditions in her songwriting. She says that all of the interesting contexts for literature are alive in Swift’s work right now, which is why she wants to incorporate it into her class.
Pairing Swift’s writings with other traditional literary works that share some of the same strategies may also make students more interested in those older works.
“College gearing courses towards contemporary poetry (music) like Taylor Swift is a novel idea to teach intertextually and bring Shakespeare and Frost into the mainstream,” DC English teacher Stephanie Lewis said. “When my sister was a student at UT, a favorite assignment was locating Shakespeare’s failures with iambic pentameter. She said it was entertaining to see how he, too, had less than perfect metered rhymes.”
Students don’t regularly say that they read Shakespeare for fun, but they do say they listen to T-Swift all the time. Students planning on attending UT in the fall will be able to connect present day music with literature and meaning, making learning and understanding the coursework more enjoyable.
“Taylor Swift is evidence of a change in literature never seen before,” senior Reid Henderson said. “She represents a shift from classical literature that calls out socio economic problems in society through story and instead does it in the form of songwriting. This is why people are so drawn to her music. It’s the same feeling people got when they read Alexander Pope or Voltaire. She is popular culture, just as these figures once were too. This class is just a way for that to be realized.”
This article originally appeared in The Voice Of The Wildkats.
Photo credit: Alyssa Beaulac