A number of universities have started to offer courses on Taylor Swift. But a university in Belgium has earned the title of the first European school to add Taylor to its syllabus.
The English paper The Guardian reports that professor Elly McCausland at Ghent University will start offering a course called Literature: Taylor’s Version this fall. Rather than specifically studying Taylor’s songwriting or her pop culture impact, it will use her songs as a gateway to study English literature, including works by Geoffrey Chaucer, Charlotte Brontë and William Shakespeare.
McCausland tells The Guardian, “I’ve never had so many emails from excited students asking if they can take the course. And actually non-students as well, people who are not part of the university and who want to participate in some way.”
McCausland was inspired to create the elective course because she kept finding parallels between Taylor’s songs and various works of English literature, including the poetry of Sylvia Plath and the writings of Margaret Atwood.
“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,” she explained. “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.”
McCausland wants anyone taking the course to know this won’t be an easy A.
“There will be critics who think it’s sort of frivolous and silly,” she acknowledges. “The primary focus is literature, but also I want us to think critically about Swift.”
“I’m absolutely not gathering all of the Swifties and we’re going to spend three hours every Monday fangirling.”