Kevin Allred, a professor in the women’s and gender studies department at Rutgers University, is stirring up controversy with his signature course: Feminist Perspectives: Politicizing Beyonce.
In a recent interview with NPR, he discusses the genesis of the course. “I read an article a few years ago by Daphne Brooks, a professor at Princeton, and she was arguing that the ‘B’Day’ album should be looked – politically, in kind of line with black, female protest singing throughout history.”
It’s nice to know that Professors at Princeton are thinking about Beyonce too.
Allred continues, “And I wanted to continue that and, like, think about all of Beyonce’s work, post and pre ‘B’Day,’ and her career in general as a way to engage students around these conversations about race, gender, sexuality and the politics of those categories in the United States, especially.”
So I’m, like, how many units is this class and like, what is the cost per unit? Will it help the students to pay back their college loans or what?
If I were teaching Beyonce Studies, I’d start with her transformation from a pretty African American girl to a sleek blond bombshell.
Does a Black woman have to look ‘whiter’ to achieve success with a mass audience? Why is the prevailing concept of female beauty still a busty blond? For all Beyonce’s talk about empowerment, I see a shrewd businesswoman selling herself as a non-threatening sex symbol. Where’s the power in that?
I have no idea what Beyonce means to our culture, but nothing about her piques my curiosity. I’m much more interested when something fresh or challenging manages to capture the public imagination, like Amy Winehouse or ‘Breaking Bad‘. Or when someone truly awful, like Taylor Swift, manages to make $1 million per show.
But that’s just me. I am obviously out of step with most of humanity.
If you’re thinking of taking Professor Allred’s course, you should familiarize yourself with his own dissertation project, for which he is now, ahem, ….
“interrogating U.S. black feminism through the sonic register, reframing debates over intersectionality versus assemblage through taking careful account of the sounds black women’s voices make, both live and recorded. He is particularly interested in the ways black female musicians – like Nina Simone, Odetta, Beyonce Knowles, Nicki Minaj, and Janelle Monae – manipulate their voices in order to resist racist and heteronormative power structures.”
Oh God. Like his hairstyle isn’t enough.