COURSE SYNOPSIS

From the syllabus course description:

Beyoncé Gisele Knowles Carter is known as many things: singer, songwriter, actress, performer, business mogul, wife, mother, half of music’s most powerful couple: but few take her seriously as a political figure even though politics continue to become more explicit in her work. Politicizing Beyoncé attempts to think about our contemporary U.S. society and its current class, racial, gender, and sexual politics using the music and career of Beyoncé as case study.

During this course, we ask: how does Beyoncé challenge our very understanding of the categories of race, gender, sexuality, class, and more? How does Beyoncé push the boundaries of those categories to make space for and embrace other (stereotypically) “deviant” bodies, desires, and/or politics? We will attempt to position Beyoncé as a progressive, feminist, and queer figure through close examination of her music alongside black feminist readings from the U.S. (and sometimes beyond), both historical and contemporary–not about Beyoncé herself, but about life, history, and politics. The work of this course is putting the music and other material in conversation with one another. Ultimately, we will attempt to answer the question: can Beyoncé’s music be seen as a blueprint for progressive social change?