Belgium University launches English literature elective course on Taylor Swift
Fans of Taylor Swift in Belgium will soon have a chance to delve deeper into literature through the American singer-songwriter’s songs at a university.
The course, titled “Literature: Taylor’s Version”, is believed to be the first in Europe, and available later this year via the master’s degree in Language and Literature at Ghent University, according to news reports.
British professor Elly McCausland, who will be teaching the course, told The Guardian that she pitched the idea after she was repeatedly struck by the parallels between Swift’s lyrics and the English literature that the academic had long studied.
For instance, in Swift’s song The Great War, Dr McCausland, who is an assistant professor at the university, saw echoes of how Sylvia Plath jarringly spoke of war and battle to convey her pain in the poem Daddy.
“I sort of thought, why is no one talking about this?” said Dr McCausland, who is reportedly a Swiftie, nickname for a Swift’s fan.
She also hopes that the course will excite students to explore the pioneers who helped shape literature between 900 and 1900, according to The Brussels Times.
“I want to show my students how much fun historical English literature can be,” said Dr McCausland in the report, according to Dutch newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws.
The course will also make links to stylistic devices and topics that writers have used for centuries based on the singer’s songs, said the report.
Dr McCausland added that “enough books have already been written about Shakespeare and other dead white men”.
It is also important to study modern female stars, she said.
“After all, sometimes students lose the sense of studying something useful and recognisable because it is so old. You need to learn how our history influences our modern literature,” she was quoted in the report.
The course will also use Swift’s work as a springboard to explore from the 14th century writings to Canadian writer Margaret Atwood’s take on The Tempest.
“What I want to do is show students that although these texts might seem inaccessible, they can be accessible if we look at them from a slightly different angle,” said Dr McCausland in The Guardian report.
“So, Shakespeare, in some way, is actually addressing a lot of the same questions as Taylor Swift is today, which seems crazy. But he is.”
This is not the first time that a university is studying Swift’s work. In 2022, New York University’s Clive Davis Institute launched a course about her life and career as a “creative music entrepreneur”.