July 21, 2024

Taylor Daily Press

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Taylor Swift is taking the world by storm and has also made it big in college.

Taylor Swift is taking the world by storm and has also made it big in college.

A Taylor Swift fan before her concert in London

Her concerts sell out in no time, she is the world’s highest-grossing artist and her songs dominate the charts: Taylor Swift is the pop star of the moment. Her success has not escaped notice in the academic world. Lecture halls at more and more universities around the world are filling with courses on Taylor Swift the businesswoman, Taylor Swift the lyricist and Taylor Swift the feminist activist. What is the academic value of the Taylor Swift phenomenon?

Tonight, tomorrow and Saturday, the American pop singer will perform at the Johan Cruijff Arena in Amsterdam. Swift’s concert series “The Eras Tour” is the first concert tour in history to gross more than a billion euros. All 152 concerts on five continents sold out within hours.

Fans had to wait nine years for Swift’s arrival. But in the coming days they can finally enjoy their own pop star:

Swifties had to wait 9 years, but Taylor Swift is back in the Netherlands

Swift’s influence extends far beyond sold-out stadiums. At universities around the world—from Harvard to Tilburg University—scholars study the artist’s work.

Over the past three days, about 150 scientists have visited the Biennale. Celebrity StudiesConference in Amsterdam. Researcher Annelotte Prince was at the conference and organized a meeting about Taylor Swift for a select group of academics today. “To think about how we research and teach about Taylor Swift.”

“Queen of Attention”

Prince himself conducts research on women in American pop music at the Freie Universität in Berlin. In her course “Celebrity Feminism in Popular Music,” she has devoted a lot of attention to Taylor Swift. The singer is an interesting case because she is the “queen” of attention, says Prince. “Whether it’s her latest boyfriend or her use of her private jet, everything she does is news. As a scientist, you can ask interesting questions about that.”

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Melissa Avdeev, a lecturer in digital media at the University of Stirling, Scotland, is one of the organizers of the Taylor Swift Meetup. Taylor Swift also comes up a lot in her classes. “It’s interesting to see the struggle of student fans: on the one hand, they want to support their idol, but on the other hand, they have to look critically at her actions and her influence.”

In Prince and Avdeev’s lessons, this critical approach is primarily about Swift’s place in the political and social debate. “Taylor never references history or politics in her songs,” says Prince. “She sings about her friends, her grief, and her own life. She portrays herself as an accessible friend and has managed to appeal to a large audience from the start.”

Taylor Swift during one of her Eras Tour concerts.

But this strategy also has a downside, says Prince: “When I started my research in 2014, we were in the middle of a trend Celebrity FeminismMany celebrities spoke out, but Taylor remained silent. Even when neo-Nazis called her out for being “innocent white” she remained silent. Even when Donald Trump won the election in 2016, Taylor said nothing.

Prince says her silence has led people to turn on her. “They’ve said, ‘There’s a lot wrong with the world and it’s because of people like Taylor Swift.’”

Prince: “Taylor herself says she should have done it sooner, but at the same time she stopped doing it quickly. Above all, Taylor Swift is someone who wants to win: she wants to be the greatest, the best of the best. She does everything she can to achieve that without compromising it.”


Both Prince and Avdeev note that they are sometimes not taken seriously in the academic world when they talk about their research. “For example, rock music is seen as something authentic, while pop music is associated with superficiality and commercialism,” Avdeev says.

Prince: “You’re seen as a bit of an amateur. Whereas millions of people here every day are so caught up in whatever Taylor Swift is doing. And then it’s kind of a contradiction to me that I have to explain why it’s important.”