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OPINION: USF’s Taylor Swift class will start soon. Here’s 3 other artists that deserve a course.

Now at USF, music will literally and physically bring people together. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE/RONALD WOAN FROM CREATIVE COMMONS

No, I am not “ready for it.”

This fall, USF will offer a Cultural Studies and Popular Arts course that will look at the themes and literary influences in Taylor Swift’s lyrics.

“For the first time, the class will be looking at music, rather than film and literature,” said Associate Professor of English Emily Jones, one of three professors teaching the class.

Now that the door is open for LIT 3301 to discuss music, there are many musicians who I think would be a great subject for study.

The course is centered around examining a piece of media and discussing how its content reflects the societal values of the time in which they were written.

Related: Taylor Swift USF course to be taught this fall

“There are a few reasons we’ve chosen Taylor Swift as the latest iteration of LIT 3301. For one thing, there’s no doubt she’s having her moment right now, it’s hard to get more popular than Swift is, for better or worse,” Jones said.

Previous subjects of study for the course have been Harry Potter, the works of Jane Austen and monsters in Pop culture.

Here are some artists whose music is worthy of examination. Like Swift, all musicians listed wrote their own songs.


Bob Dylan

Swift’s “Folklore” has nothing on the king of folk music. 

Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2016, which was scorned by many Americans, because this category is often reserved for writers. However, Dylan is a storyteller and a poet. 

Like any other great writer, Dylan’s songs are full of literary devices and vivid imagery.

Many of his lyrics narrate personal journeys and even ongoing politics, such racial tensions of the time. His early works are the product of a pivotal time in American counterculture.

For example, one of the songs that projected Dylan into fame was “Blowin’ In the Wind,” which offers criticisms of the Vietnam war, advocating for peace and freedom.

It’d be fun to look at Dylan’s music to see how it is a product of its time.


Amy Winehouse

Another unconventional artist who is praised for their distinctive style and voice is Amy Winehouse.

Winehouse’s lyrics cut deep. In “Wake Up Alone,” she coos “He swims in my eyes by the bed/ pour myself over him/ moon spilling in/ and I wake up alone.”

With her soulful voice, it’s apparent that everything she says is authentic.

Her sound was heavily inspired by old school jazz and R&B, which was really unique amidst the bubblegum pop of the 2000s. She pushed the envelope for what female artists back then were supposed to look and sound like.

Related: USF students, add headphones to your back-to-school list

Her refusal to blend in is what makes her so admirable. 

Looking at Amy’s lyrics from a cultural standpoint would reveal much about what being a woman in the modern age is like. 


Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson’s unique voice and dance style makes him untouchable as an artist. 

The “King of Pop” was an early pioneer of music videos on MTV, being one of the first to use this new visual medium as storytelling.

Jackson’s “Thriller”  held the title for best selling album until 2018. He set records and challenged racial boundaries that dominated the music industry.

If we want to talk about cultural influence, fan culture and musical genius, Jackson is a great place to start.

Jackson would be a great subject for this popular arts class because the works of Black artists typically go overlooked from a historical standpoint. Not only did Jackson pave the way for future pop musicians, but his fan base helped curate the fanatic fan culture that we are so familiar with today.

I’m currently enrolled in LIT 3301 for this summer semester and I’m jealous that the students who take the course in the fall will get to study their favorite artist. I would much rather look at Taylor Swift songs than “Pride and Prejudice.”