A European first… Even if the US already has been using Taylor Swift’s songbook as a springboard to delve into classic literature…
While New York University’s Clive Davis Institute already launched a Taylor Swift-inspired course last year, the University of Texas added a unit to analyse Swift’s lyrics alongside poetry by greats like John Keats and Sylvia Plath, and Stanford University introduced a new course titled ‘The Last Great American Songwriter: Storytelling with Taylor Swift Through the Eras’ earlier this year, Europe is finally catching up…
A Belgian university is launching what is believed to be Europe’s first Taylor Swift-inspired literature course.
The elective course at the University of Ghent is said to highlight the themes, styles and techniques of famous historical literary writers from the US pop superstar’s perspective.
So, for example, since many of the 33-year-old’s songs are inspired by literature – lyrically and thematically – classics like ‘Romeo and Juliet’, ‘Jane Eyre’, and ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ will be studied through the lens of the singer-songwriter’s plume.
For instance, the track ‘Wonderland’ compares the plight of two lovers to taking “a wrong turn and we fell down a rabbit hole” – in reference to Lewis Carroll’s seminal book, while the song ‘The Last Great American Dynasty’ feels very F. Scott Fitzgerald, with talk of “new money”, loud parties and pools filled with champagne.
Authors like Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson, and Margaret Atwood will also be studied with Swift’s songs used as a starting point.
The course will be taught by British professor Elly McCausland who will use Swift’s work as a springboard to explore literature over the centuries.
The course, due to start in the autumn, is called ‘Literature (Taylor’s Version)’ – a reference to Swift’s re-recordings of her albums) – and will be added to the master’s degree in language and literature.
McCausland said that “enough books have already been written about Shakespeare and other dead white men.”
The academic also added that in Swift’s ‘The Great War’ she saw parallels with how Sylvia Plath wrote about war and battle to show the pain she felt in her poem ‘Daddy’.
McCausland insisted the “primary focus is literature” and the course would be grounded in academics, rather than setting up a fan club.
“I want to show my students how much fun historical English literature can be,” she told Het Laatste Nieuws.
So, ‘… Ready For It?’ We are.
Additional sources • Het Laatste Nieuws