Quinnipiac offers new Taylor Swift course

Quinnipiac students are now able to enroll in the class of their "wildest dreams," earning three academic credits studying Taylor Swift's artistic legacy.

Women’s and gender studies course, WGS-200, offers students the unique opportunity to enter their Taylor Swift Era during the summer II term, set to run online from July 8 to August 23. They will examine the strategy behind Swift’s work and how it contributed to launching her career to unprecedented success.

Led by Associate Professor of Civil Engineering and self-proclaimed Swiftie Ari Perez, the course will follow a chronology of Swift’s work, examining the theoretical frameworks behind her legacy and repertoire. The course is the first of its kind in the state, according to Perez.

“Since academia is about studying and analyzing ‘big important things,’ I think Taylor Swift’s music and career are relevant in a variety of fields,” said Perez. “Her artistic output is of extraordinary quality and volume. Taylor is such an important cultural figure and her work is definitely deserving of academic study. I’m just the lucky guy who gets to lead it!”

In addition to gaining a deep appreciation for the artist, the course will provide students with critical-thinking skills and a sense of scholarly work that will expand their ability to analyze topics. 

While Perez will provide a foundation of knowledge about Swift, the course will be supplemented by podcast materials that feature expertise from Quinnipiac professors and senior administrators specializing in fields such as English, sociology, music and media studies.

“This was truly a team effort and it is because of the great faculty here at Quinnipiac that I was able to build this team,” said Perez. “Even with 15 years of lived Swiftie experience, I couldn't have never designed and prepared this class without them. I am so lucky to have such collaborative and talented academics around me.”

The fearless podcast examines Swift's work from a variety of perspectives and scholarly approaches — and considers her output, influences and impat on the world. To date, there are four episodes published with more on he way.

Through this curriculum, students will analyze Swift’s work and make rational, well-informed arguments about her impact in these respective fields.

“I really hope that students will have a great time learning about Taylor, her work and her effects on the world,” said Perez. “I imagine we will all love Taylor’s music and overall vibe, but my hope is that students will also love learning about Taylor in a structured and academic setting.”

Throughout the term, the course will cover various themes and topics within Swift’s discography. Channeling his engineering background, Perez looks forward to running computational linguistics and statistical analyses on Swift's music, providing a unique perspective for students to discover the intersection of music and data science.

As the course is offered to all students of various fields of study, Perez hopes to unite #BobcatNation through students' shared love of and appreciation for Swift.

“While I am the chairman of the Tortured Swifties Department, I see every student as an important member, bringing knowledge and expertise to enrich the classroom environment,” said Perez. “I think that all of us, myself included, will learn a lot from each other.”

As a full-circle moment to his journey as both a professor and a Swiftie, Perez reflects on his introduction to the artist. In 2009, Perez was teaching sixth grade and was looking for a way to bond with his students. Upon asking his students what they were interested in, many of the girls in his class said Swift. This prompted Perez to check out her music.

Professor Ari Perez at a Taylor Swift concert smiling with Taylor Swift in the background
Perez attends a Swift concert.

“The first time I heard Fearless, I thought that Taylor had read into my soul, written a few songs about what she had seen and was signing them right back out to me,” said Perez. “Fearless is the album that changed my life so I became a 'Swiftie' right then and there.”

From discovering a way to connect with his students to leading the first-ever Taylor Swift course at Quinnipiac, Perez is filled with excitement and gratitude for the opportunity to blend his two passions.

As a testament to the interdisciplinary collaboration between faculty at Quinnipiac, Perez extends his appreciation to Quinnipiac for supporting his dreams and to the professors who have contributed their knowledge and expertise to the course.

The following professors contributed to the course: 

  • Kimberly O’Neill, associate professor of English and women's and gender studies; and director of women's studies 

  • Jennifer Dauphinais, assistant teaching professor of education 

  • Kearston Wesner, associate professor of media studies 

  • Valerie Smith, associate professor and chair of English 

  • Blythe Frank, assistant professor of film, television and media arts; and director of the cinematic production management master's program 

  • Julia Fullick-Jagiela, associate professor and chair of management

  • Sujata Gadkar-Wilcox, associate professor of legal studies and chair of justice and law 

  • Lauren Sardi, professor of sociology and women's and gender studies; and director of the collaborative for interdisciplinary/integrative studies 

  • Clorinda Velez, professor of psychology 

  • Candice Travis, assistant professor of political science 

  • Molly Yanity, professor of journalism, chair of journalism and director of the graduate program in journalism

  • Debra Liebowitz, provost 

  • Jill Fehleison, professor of history and interdisciplinary studies; and director of general education 

  • Jerrica Breindel, assistant professor of medical sciences; and associate program director of scholarly reflection and concentration capstone 

  • David DesRoches, director of community programming 

Students can learn more about the class on the course catalog


Listen to the podcast

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In the Media

Listen to an interview with Ari Perez on WCBAS-AM radio about designing and introducing the new course.

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