A Stanford Taylor Swift Course is on the books at Stanford. The aim? To explore the storytelling prowess of Taylor Swift, an artist who has, over a decade, deftly blended musicality with intricate narratives.
A Literary Dive: The Stanford Taylor Swift Course
Every week, students in this course will deep dive into one of Swift’s 10 albums. They’ll not just listen but dissect, focusing keenly on lyricism, storytelling, and oblique literary references.
Ava Jeffs, a sophomore at Stanford, championed this course offering. Her vision? “Situate it in the English department,” she emphasized to SFGATE. Jeffs believes in drawing parallels between Swift’s lyrical content and classic literature. For her, this course is a journey, one that maps the intricate lanes of literature onto the vast avenues of Swift’s music.
Swift’s musical repertoire often nods to literary giants. A striking example is the track “Ivy,” which echoes a phrase from Miller Williams’ poem “Compassion.” Even the album title, “Evermore,” has fans drawing connections to an Emily Dickinson poem.
These literary tie-ins signify the depth and breadth of Swift’s artistic canvas, and this course intends to highlight and celebrate these connections.
The Making of the Course
This new course is part of Stanford’s Student-Initiated Courses, a unique initiative where students pitch activity courses on a credit/no credit basis. Every SIC requires the backing of a faculty member, and for Jeffs, that support comes from Mark McGurl.
While Swift released her debut album in 2006, Jeffs’ admiration for the singer spans almost her entire life, creating a personal resonance and passion for this academic endeavor.
While Stanford’s course might sound avant-garde, it isn’t the first academic foray into Swift’s art.
In 2022, both New York University and the University of Texas at Austin explored Swift’s artistry in their courses. Stanford, however, aims to go a step further. Jeffs sees her course as a challenge to higher education norms, urging institutions to place popular music on the same pedestal as classical literary works.
For Jeffs, Swift’s narrative style holds immense academic value. She believes that Swift’s focus on storytelling mirrors the intricacies found in classic literature.