Institutes of higher learning have offered the occasional class in pop culture for years, but now new courses on the most influential (or at least most talked about) entertainers of our day are appearing on semester schedules at a rate that might alarm some hardcore humanities profs. Here are 10 of the most surprising subjects—no pre-requisite required.
Course: The Sociology of Miley Cyrus: Race, Class, Gender, and Media
Where: Skidmore College
Details: The latest offering in this niche course market is on the twerking pop princess herself, Miley Cyrus. To be held as a summer intensive, the class focuses on Cyrus' controversial public image and her shift from "Hannah Montana" to a proud Molly supporter.
Course: Politicizing Beyoncé
Where: Rutgers University
Details: To clarify, lectures will use Queen Bey's music to explore race, gender, and sexuality—not her role in politics.
Course: Bruce Springsteen's Theology
Where: Rutgers University
Details: Rutgers is cornering the celeb course market. In 2013, a freshman seminar was offered to examine the biblical allusions in the Boss' lyrics.
Course: English 2169: Jay-Z and Kanye West
Where: University of Missouri
Details: Study up on how this duo has changed the history of hip-hop and the interpretation of the American dream. Required reading includes Jay-Z's autobiography, Decoded, and perhaps scanning the celeb gossip sites that hound them will count as extra credit.
Course: Sociology of Hip-Hop: Jay-Z
Where: Georgetown University
Details: The music mogul is the only star on our list who's the subject of two courses—and rightfully so. Previous classes on Jay were offered at the University of Pennsylvania by a professor who's also taught on Tupac and Marvin Gaye.
Course: Lady Gaga and the Sociology of Fame
Where: University of South Carolina
Details: Conversations about Lady Gaga and the nature of fame go hand in hand. We're sure there were heated debates whether or not ARTPOP flopped last semester.
Course: The Phenomenology of Performance: David Bowie
Where: University of Southern Maine
Details: Only time will tell if the Miley and Yoncé courses will hold down their spots in course catalogues next term, but so far David Bowie is the only pop star who's claimed prime lecture hall real estate for ten years.
Course: Michael Jackson: The Business of Music
Where: Clark Atlanta University
Details: MBA students can explore how the King of Pop did business and essentially changed entertainment legal practices for good. Robin Thicke should think of enrolling.
Course: Elvis as Anthology
Where: University of Iowa
Details: The King of Rock & Roll may not have made it to a college classroom in his day, but you can still study his undeniable cultural influence for an English credit.
Course: The Beatles
Where: University of California—Los Angeles
Details: Several U.S. schools have held classes on the most important boy band of all time (sorry BSB and 1D). UCLA's will examine the life and music of the Beatles within the social and historical context of 1960s. Lord knows there are enough books and movies to provide a degree's-worth of supplementary course material.
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