You Can No Longer Study Beyoncé For College Credit

Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images.
Apparently, Rutgers University administrators are not a fan of Sasha Fierce. The New Jersey-based university has canceled a class on Black feminism called “Politicizing Beyoncé.” Women’s Studies professor Kevin Allred, who taught the class, was told that it would not be offered for the spring semester because the school is “rotating” its options. But he finds the cancellation confusing: “The class has been intensely popular — [it] always fills up and brings a lot of attention to the Women’s and Gender Studies department,” he told Refinery29 by email. He finds the decision not to offer it “illogical.”

This class was not just an easy A and sessions spent surfing YouTube. “None of the readings have anything to do with Beyoncé — they're about politics, history, the lives of Black women, sexuality, etc. We put those readings into conversation with Beyoncé in the analysis,” Allred explained. "[Studying Black feminism] helps decenter the whiteness that is always default at the center of education, politics, activism, etc. We live in an intersectional world."

The class, which was taught since 2010, was immensely popular. It studied intersections of race, gender, and sexuality by focusing on Beyoncé as an icon and an artist. The syllabus paired writings by notable Black feminists with Beyoncé videos, using the former to analyze the latter's layers of cultural, political, and historical context.

From a cultural standpoint, canceling the class means that students looking for a change from the standard fare — philosophy according to white men — have one less option. “There are other courses on Black feminism at Rutgers and in the Women's and Gender Studies department, but it may be the only class at Rutgers overall with a Black woman's name in the title,” Allred said. The pop culture element also plays a significant role, engaging students through analysis of the media they consume every day. The inclusion of Beyoncé as a focal point keeps the material accessible and relatable, an advantage that other classes on the subject of Black feminism may not have.

But for those who are already bemoaning their missed opportunities to examine the cultural meaning of the "Single Ladies" dance, all hope is not yet lost. Allred says he's moving the class to the American Studies department at Rutgers, where it will be available in Fall 2016. How soon does enrollment start?

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