Taylor Swift’s songwriting to be subject of new Texas university literature course

Artist’s lyrics will be read alongside the works of literary giants including Shakespeare and Sylvia Plath

Roisin O'Connor
Wednesday 24 August 2022 09:58 BST
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‘Cringe is unavoidable’: Taylor Swift speaks at NYU graduation

The songwriting of Taylor Swift will be the subject of a new literature course at a Texas university this autumn, it has been announced.

The Grammy-winning artist’s songs will be studied at the University of Texas at Austin (UTA) alongside British and American literary giants such as Chaucer, Shakespeare, Coleridge, Keats and Sylvia Plath.

Titled The Taylor Swift Songbook, the course will be on offer later this year, with preliminary texts including the artist’s albums Red (Taylor’s Version), her sister albums Folklore and Evermore, and her 2019 record Lover.

According to its description on the UTA website, the course “uses the songwriting of pop music icon Taylor Swift to introduce literary critical reading and research methods-basic skills for work in English literature and other humanities disciplines.

“Focusing on Swift‘s music and the cultural contexts in which it and her career are situated, we’ll consider frameworks for understanding her work, such as poetic form, style, and history among various matters and theoretical issues important to contextualization as we practice close and in-depth reading, evaluating secondary sources, and building strong arguments,” the description continued.

UTA’s course follows one offered by New York University, which developed a course based on Swift’s status as a music entrepreneur, along with the songwriters who have influenced her.

Swift received an honorary doctor of fine arts from NYU earlier this year and delivered a moving speech at its commencement ceremony.

Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift (YouTube/NYU)

Opening her speech for the graduates of New York University’s class of 2022, she joked: “Last time I was in a stadium this size, I was dancing in high heels and wearing a glittery leotard. This outfit is much more comfortable.”

She added: “I’m 90 per cent sure the reason I’m here is because I have a song called “22”.”

In her emotive speech, she told the graduate students that they must “learn to live alongside cringe”, commenting: “You will look back on your life and cringe retrospectively. Cringe is unavoidable over the course of a lifetime... You can’t avoid it so don’t try to – for the entirety of 2012 I dressed like a 1950s housewife!”

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Swift also tackled the challenges of working as a young woman in the music industry, and being surrounded by people who were at least a decade older than her. “I was constantly being issued warnings,” she said, and was made to feel like she had to be a “perfect young female role model”. If she didn’t, she quipped, she was warned that she would end up in “pop star jail”.

She also spoke about low points in her career, telling the audience: “Getting cancelled on the internet and almost losing my career gave me an excellent knowledge of all the types of wine.”

Additional reporting by Press Association

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