Graduate student teaches new course comparing 19th and 20th-century texts to Taylor Swift songs

Graduate student Makayla Dublin will teach a new course this fall comparing Taylor Swift songs to 19th and 20th-century literature. 

Here is an excerpt from Dublin’s course description:  

With the announcement of her new album The Tortured Poets Department, Taylor Swift has appointed herself the chairperson of said department and, in doing so, claims her songwriting is like poetry or literature. In this class, we will explore what this assertion means while digging into the narratives Swift creates about herself and her identity as well as about groups of fictional characters. We will look at the various references to literature in Swift’s songwriting while considering how both Swift and the authors we are reading interact with their cultural moment as well as with ideas of the past. 

One of the course’s assignments asks students to choose from one of three song and novel pairings and consider the themes present in the novel and the song. Students can pick from three pairings: Villette and Swift’s song “Anti-Hero,” Jane Eyre and the song “mad woman,” or Rebecca and her song “tolerate it.” They’re asked to examine the themes in the novel and song and explore how Swift and the author of their chosen novel represent these themes through close reading analysis. The course reading list includes Charlotte Bronte’s Villette and Jane Eyre, Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea, Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise, Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra, selected poems from Sylvia Plath, and selected poems from William Wordsworth.

The phenomenon of Taylor Swift college courses is a rapidly growing one, with institutions like Harvard and Northeastern University offering classes this upcoming fall.

Makayla Dublin will start her third year in the PhD program this fall. She focuses on the intersection of literature with science and technology, specifically medicine and mental health, in 19th and 20th-century Transatlantic Literature.