The University of Victoria course, taught by Dr. Melissa Avdeeff, will touch on everything from music video analysis to feminism and gender studies, tracking Beyoncé’s career trajectory from her girl-group days with Destiny’s Child to solo stardom.
“I just thought she would be an artist that a lot of the students — especially in this young 20s age range — would be able to identify with… They’ve pretty much had Beyoncé in their lives their entire lives,” the university lecturer told Global News, and whose bio lists her as scholar of all things popular.
Avdeeff believes too many people make needless, even unfair, judgments about the authenticity or credibility of pop stars such as Beyoncé. They do this even as one-time pop stars, including The Beatles, are regularly studied in universities and their music is routinely played by great orchestras. “I’m not denying we shouldn’t have courses on The Beatles,” said Avdeeff. “So why is there an issue with Beyoncé, who is a black, female pop star as opposed to these old, white rockers,” she explains in a recent Times Colonist article.
The course, listed as MUS 391 A03: Beyoncé, does not require any previous musical knowledge but will involve a lot of music listening, video watching and critical thinking.
At University of Waterloo, the course being offered by the school’s drama and speech communication department will focus on Beyoncé’s self-titled visual album as a springboard to feminist and race theories.
Lest you think these course offerings are fluff rather than fierce, in a Huffington Post article recently, the course instructor, Assistant Professor Naila Keleta-Mae, explains why she is using Beyoncé to teach the Gender and Performance class. Commenting on the most influential storytellers of the 21st century, Keleta-Mae says, “Like it or not, Beyoncé's name must be mentioned in any credible answer. She uses visuals and music to tell young people around the world what it means to be a woman, wife, mother and feminist.”
In a National Post article, writer Ashley Csanady explains, “Beyoncé embodies a cross-section of race, feminism and raw sexuality makes her a perfect entry point into discussions of gender, power, colonialism, and race — especially in a course that’s open to anyone in the university, not just arts students.”
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