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Another Taylor Swift course is coming to Boston, this time at Northeastern University




Beginning this January, Northeastern University students can delve into Taylor Swift’s storytelling aptitude, from Fearless’ hopeless romanticism to the darker Reputation era.

Northeastern University joins other colleges across the U.S. that will now offer a course studying Taylor Swift’s storytelling and musical career. Natacha Pisarenko/AP

Taylor Swift and her influence is everywhere, from your local AMC or an NFL game to college classrooms — a growing number of college classrooms, in fact. 

Northeastern University is joining other colleges in offering a new course that’s all about the world’s biggest pop star. 

Titled “Speak Now: Gender & Storytelling in Taylor Swift’s Eras,” the course focuses on Swift’s experimentation with narrative and genre in her music that tells listeners stories about heart-wrenching break-ups, rage-inducing media scrutiny, and fairytale-like romance. 

“She is so prolific in her songwriting, especially in recent years, that we’re seeing this archive of her music that’s become a voice for not just one generation, but multiple generations,” said Dr. Catherine Fairfield, course instructor and Northeastern postdoctoral teaching associate. She’s also a Swift fan, having listened to the artist since age 15.


Fairfield gave examples, like Swift’s world-building around Romeo and Juliet and fantasy romanticism in Fearless hit Love Story. Or the gothic themes in revenge tracks from Swift’s darkest era, Reputation. 

It also isn’t all about Swift. Fairfield said the course weaves in the history of female storytelling, from Swift storytelling influences like Charlotte Bronte and Daphne du Maurier, to the narrative sources that typically don’t get platforms, such as diaries and letters. The latter is what Swift is especially known for, a form of confessional writing that has helped her connect with fans. 

That part, connection, is principal to the course when it comes to involving students’ perspectives on Swift’s vast discography — an archive of music they likely grew up with. 

“It’s important for me that students start from a place of thinking about songs or eras that connect to them personally, and walking backwards from that initial feeling of ‘I absolutely love the song Dear John’ or ‘The Speak Now era was everything to me,’” said Fairfield, who added that analyzing Swift’s songs will use a combination of students’ personal feelings about the artist as well as creative literary analysis. 

Fairfield said gender and identity play a huge role in this course, including how women are often shamed for loving popular culture or art that delves into love, plus the LGBTQ+ space that plays an important part in Swift’s fan base. 

The class is an intersession course, which runs for one week at the beginning of January, though Fairfield hopes it can be expanded to a semester-long course. After all, Swift’s nearly 20-year career and 10 albums is a lot to delve into. 

She added that there is still time for Northeastern students to sign up for the course.


This week Harvard University announced it would offer a Swift course called “Taylor Swift and Her World.” The Boston Globe reports that the class starts during the spring 2024 semester and, similar to the Northeastern course, studies the artist’s songwriting. It also studies Swift’s “fan culture.” 

Students at Berklee College of Music also took a fall course that explored Swift’s discography. Outside of Boston, several schools have or plan to introduce courses that explore Swift’s career and global influence.

Source: Boston Globe

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