Belgian university enters new era with Taylor Swift course

BRUSSELS   -   From “Alice in Wonderland” to “The Great Gatsby”, “Rebecca” to “Jane Eyre”, the songs of sing­er-songwriter Taylor Swift are filled with clear and subtle lit­erary references. Now, a litera­ture professor in Belgium has seized on the bookish quali­ties of Swift’s lyrics to launch a course using the US super­star’s songs to delve into the greats of English writing and the themes of their work. For Elly McCausland, an assistant professor at Ghent University, Swift’s songs offer an oppor­tunity to explore feminism, for example through “The Man”, and the anti-hero trope through the aptly named song “Anti-Hero” from her 2022 album, “Midnights”. Mc­Causland decided earlier this year to mastermind a course to start in September inspired by Swift’s work after listen­ing to “The Great War”, also from “Midnights”. “The way she uses the war, like a meta­phor for a relationship, made me a bit uncomfortable and it got me thinking about Sylvia Plath’s poem ‘Daddy’, which does a similar thing and also it’s very uncomfortable read­ing,” the academic told AFP. McCausland knew all too well the power of the singer’s work as a “real Swiftie” herself and insists that the course, “Liter­ature (Taylor’s Version)”, is a way to make literature “more accessible” and “not to create a Swift fan club”.

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