‘Swiftposium’: Australia to hold world’s first Taylor Swift conference

Taylor Swift

Australia is set to host the world’s first international academic conference on the impact of pop icon Taylor Swift.

Entitled ‘Swiftposium’, the event will explore her influence on the music industry, culture and the economy, with organisers of the three-day event anticipating that it will draw academics across the Asia-Pacific region.

Set to take place in February 2024, the conference will coincide with Swift landing in Australia for the beginning of her sold-out Eras Tour.

Swift’s global tour saw ticketing systems crash as tickets for the US leg went on sale, necessitating the introduction of a code-based system after only a handful of registered fans were granted access.

“She’s quite a phenomenon”, Jennifer Beckett of the University of Melbourne, the academic behind the conference, told BBC News. “Taylor Swift really does have a very concrete impact globally, across things that affect all of us.

“World leaders are begging for her to bring the Eras Tour to their country because of the economic benefits that it brings.”

You may like to watch

The economic impact of the Eras Tour has been seen worldwide. Time reported a projected gross of $2.2 billion in North American ticket sales alone, predicting that the tour will pass the $1 billion mark in March 2023 as the dates continue.

Speakers for the ‘Swiftposium’ are set to be announced over the coming months, with a space reserved for the pop star herself should she wish to attend. “Tay Tay, if you want to come, we’d love to have you,” Dr Beckett added.

Taylor Swift lyrics are ‘literature’

This isn’t the first time that Swift has drawn the attention of academics. Queen Mary, University of London currently offers a module on Taylor Swift and Literature as part of its Summer School programme, suggesting that her lyrics “can and should” be read as literature.

Her back catalogue contains a myriad of references to literary history, including “the lakes” and “Love Story”, revisiting both the Romantic poets and Shakespeare.

Likewise, New York University’s Clive Davis Institute introduced its first-ever course on Taylor Swift in January 2022. Taught by Rolling Stone’s senior writer Brittany Spanos, it explores her evolution as a creative, the long-lasting legacy of pop and country artists, and discourses around youth and girlhood.

A vocal LGBTQ+ ally, Swift reflected on how her concerts are a safe, “celebratory space” for queer fans amidst an increase in anti-LGBTQ+ bills in the US during Pride Month.

“I’m looking out tonight, I’m seeing so many incredible individuals who are living authentically and beautifully, and this is a safe space for you”, she told the crowd at a concert in Chicago.

Earlier this week, the singer also urged her fans to vote in the forthcoming US elections, an action that drove record-breaking numbers to register at the Vote.org website.

Sharing a message on her Instagram to mark National Voter Registration Day on 19 September, she asked her followers “Are you registered to vote yet?”

“I’ve been so lucky to see so many of you at my US shows recently. I’ve heard you raise your voices, and I know how powerful they are. Make sure you’re ready to use them in our elections this year!”, she added. The next day, Vote.org’s communications director noted that the site was “averaging 13,000 users every 30 minutes” following Swift’s request.