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The Westfield Voice

The Westfield Voice

Taylor Swift Course Offered for Westfield State Fall 2024 Semester

Taylor Swift performing.

After 17 ½ years of teaching, Christopher Gullen turns their attention and skills to investigate pop star Taylor Swift’s image, general presentation, and fandom in a new course offered to first-year journey students incoming to Westfield State University.

Why Taylor Swift? “It allows students to be excited about learning – since they probably like her – and opens up conversations about topics like public relations, feminism, race, and politics,” Gullen says.

Gullen also explains how the course is neither pro- or anti-Taylor, and it will be open to criticism in all aspects of her character. Gullen considers themself a Swiftie, listening on and off for years and slowly gaining more interest and exploring the lore. They plan to see the Eras Tour in Madrid in May. This will be beneficial for them as they will receive first-hand experience in the presence of Taylor Swift before teaching the course.

The course is somewhat traditional in that students will have weekly homework consisting of journals and paper assignments corresponding to the album at hand. Gullen plans to start with Swift’s first album and continue to her latest, which was released on April 19th. The course is 3 credits for the General Education core curriculum, capped with 25 students.

Eventually, if all goes well, a second class will be offered to all students and will count towards a communication or elective credit, capped with 18 students. The course will be writing focused while helping students gain presentation skills as well as analytical and critical thinking skills.

Swift is known for putting “easter eggs” throughout her lyrics and in her music videos. This class will observe and analyze these hidden messages. The course also depends on real time communication and live media updates. The students will have a Discord server to communicate with live updates on breaking Taylor-related news.

Because this course is only offered to freshmen, it will also be used as an advising and introductory course where students will learn where to receive on-campus resources and support. In terms of Swift and her material, students will understand the power of a strong woman in business and in a male-dominated industry. Listening critically will allow students to be more intelligent in who they listen to and support, and what’s hidden in their music.

Students are able to find identity in the lyrics and videos, and can understand themselves and Swift beyond the surface level of her music. An example of this is Swift’s hit song “Shake it Off.” While the song’s energy seems fun and upbeat, featuring a music video with dance sequences, the lyrics themselves suggest Swift is actually angry and fed up with the media’s interpretation of her.

Deep diving into Swift’s lyrical and visual messages creates a bigger story than the song itself. This course will inspire students to critically think, observe, analyze, and develop an ambition to seek truth and reasoning.

Christopher Gullen’s highly requested course for incoming freshmen will create excitement and boost involvement within the school community while expanding students’ minds to investigate, analyze, and understand beyond surface level meanings.

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