Trans Harvard professor launches Taylor Swift course – covering the ‘queer subtext’ in her songs

A professor called Stephanie Burt who teaches at the extremely prestigious Harvard University has launched a course that proves that liking Taylor Swift is a sign of intelligence… kind of. 

Trailblazing English professor Stephanie Burt, who is trans, has launched a course all about the American singer-songwriter entitled ‘Taylor Swift and Her World’.

Professor Burt, a self-professed Swiftie, is leading the course which is structured around the eras of the ‘Cruel Summer’ hitmaker’s extensive career, from her 2006 debut album and progressing to her most recent releases.

In a video posted to Instagram, Burt explained what the course would cover, saying: “I think her art makes the world that we live in better and more interesting… we’ll look at how the words that she uses interact with the music that goes with them.”

The course even includes classes centred around the “queer subtext” that has long been drawn in Swift’s moving songs, untangling the songwriter’s relationship with the poetry and literary world. 

‘Taylor Swift and Her World’ began in February and, according to The Harvard Gazette classes have been hugely popular. The class has been the biggest Professor Burt has ever taught and “the largest taught in the arts and humanities this spring.”

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Speaking to the Evening Standard at the announcement of the course, Professor Stephanie Burt shared: “We are lucky enough to be living in a time when one of our major artists is also one of the most famous people on the planet. Why would you not have a course on that?

“I try to teach only the courses that I think our students can really use — either because students want them or because our curriculum needs them.”

Professor Burt notes that Swift’s penmanship offers plenty of “literary and aesthetic analysis.” Also, the poetry Professor outlines that Swift regularly “engages with the literary canon, sometimes directly naming influences and muses in her music”

The Harvard course summary describes the syllabus for those lucky students about to become experts in all things Swift: “We will move through Swift’s own catalogue, including hits, deep cuts, outtakes, re-recordings, considering songwriting as its own art, distinct from poems recited or silently read.

“We will learn how to study fan culture, celebrity culture, adolescence, adulthood and appropriation; how to think about white texts, Southern texts, transatlantic texts, and queer subtexts.”

Who is Professor Stephanie Burt?

Professor Burt is a poet and literary critic who earned a BA from Harvard and a PhD from Yale.

Burt is currently a Professor of English at Harvard – “one of the first out transgender people to serve on the faculty of the prestigious university” – and is leading the Swift educational renaissance. 

Professor Burt lives in the suburbs of Boston with her spouse, Jessie Bennett, and their two children.

Having been a fan of Swift for nearly 15 years, Professor Burt is the perfect academic voice to teach this thorough examination of the singer. 

What is Taylor Swift’s net worth?

The launch of the Swift course coincides with the pop star joining Forbes World’s Billionaires List.

Sitting pretty with $1.1 billion (£877 million), she joins the likes of Sam Altman, creator of the AI chatbot ChatGPT, on $1 billion (£800 million) and NBA legend Magic Johnson on $1.2 billion (£954 million),

Forbes reported that 2024 saw a record number of billionaires, 2,781 to be exact. 

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