Published Jan 18, 2017Kanye West's forays into the worlds of music, video, fashion design and more have long been detailed by the media, but Washington University is giving students a chance to study them in an academic setting with a new course.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the school began a course titled "Politics of Kanye West: Black Genius and Sonic Aesthetics" this week. A total of 75 students are currently enrolled in the course, while a waiting list has been started for those who, not unlike West, left their registrations late.
Dr. Jeffrey McCune, who is teaching the course, told the Post-Dispatch that he sees the course as a "good way to get students to connect issues of politics, race, gender, sexuality and culture," while cautioning Yeezy stans that the course won't be a place to bash West or fawn over his work.
"I always wanted to teach a course looking at black genius and the impossibility of black genius for the American public," McCune told the publication. "We're always thought of as maybe being articulate or smart but not really genius.
"Many people spend a lot of time talking about Kanye as a controversial and somewhat hot-headed figure. They're very interested in Kanye West as a source of personality. Throughout his career, he has always interested me — his sense of black excellence, his belief that we have within us the capacity for greatness. I know for Kanye that has translated as narcissism and arrogance."
He continued: "I knew my students had connections to Kanye. They're always referencing his music and performances and videos and fashion. What better time than now to take seriously Kanye West as a cultural icon? I'm always interested in how he's pushing whatever boundaries."
As for his own favourite Yeezy album, McCune listed West's Graduation as his favourite. "It's quintessentially produced and has its own optimistic personality," he said. "Every album teaches you something."
This isn't the first time West has been tapped as the subject of a post-secondary course. Georgia State University offered a course on the rapper in 2015, while a 2014 course at the University of Missouri focused on both West and Watch the Throne counterpart Jay Z.
The Post-Dispatch revealed that some topics outlined on the Washington University course's syllabus are as follows:
• "Who is Kanye West and Why is He in the Flashing Lights?"
• "Touch the Sky, When the Aspirant Turns Genius"
• "Father Stretch My Hands, or How Hip-Hop Takes Us to Church"
• "Love Lock Down, or Hip-Hop's Queer Love Languages"
• "I Love Kanye, or How Critique Slips Into Hate"