Published Aug 31, 2015Canadian university students will be heading back to campus in droves over the next couple of weeks, and a couple of institutions are attempting to bring some excitement to the classroom with academic courses about Beyoncé.
The University of Waterloo is offering a new drama course called "Gender and Performance," which will focus on the content and context of Beyoncé's 2013 self-titled album. Taught by poet and playwright Naila Keleta-Mae, the course will focus on performance study models, as well as feminist and race theories in relation to Beyoncé as a visual medium (each song was accompanied by its own music video upon release).
"This album, I think, operates on many platforms," Keleta-Mae told CBC. "[Beyoncé] spoke about wanting all of these videos ... thought about as a movie of sorts. And so for me, as a performance studies scholar, it was interesting to think of an entire album as being a visual performance."
Scholarly Bey fans on the West Coast also have the option of studying the pop star at the University of Victoria. Taught by Dr. Melissa Avdeeff, the class explores "how we can situate popular music as a cultural construct," following Beyoncé's career from a member of Destiny' Child to her forays into film to her work with husband and collaborator Jay Z — and, of course, her current reign as Queen Bey. Discussion topics include authenticity, use of social media, female sexuality, race and audience.
"It's aimed at students who probably listen to Beyoncé, fans, or people who just like pop music in general," Avdeeff told the Globe and Mail. "It's kind of a way for people to think more critically about their listening and their watching habits because, obviously, Beyoncé is very visually focused with her videos. It's just a way to develop a framework to understand why and how we listen to popular music and its role in society and having to think more critically about that as opposed to being passive consumers."
The course debuted back in January, with Avdeeff dedicating part of a class to discussing criticism of the course itself that had emerged online. She told CBC that one of the main criticisms that arose was along the lines of "I can understand having a course on someone like the Beatles or the Rolling Stones, but not Beyoncé — she hasn't been around long enough."
Despite the inevitable naysayers, soon-to-be Bey scholars can at least rest assured that listening to "Drunk in Love" won't get them kicked out of the classroom.