Beyonce is entering the spotlight this spring at a Chicago university, but not to take the stage. Instead, a professor is teaching teaching a semester-long course on the famous singer.
Jennifer Richardson, a research assistant and professor of gender and women's studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago, is teaching the course called "Beyonce: Critical Feminist Perspectives and U.S. Black Womanhood." Richardson will explore Beyonce's music and career through a feminist and queer lens as well as discuss media representations of black womanhood, according to the course description.
Beyonce has been a dynamic force in pop culture and the subject of much criticism and praise, from President Obama to Annie Lennox. Richardson's students will also critically analyze the singer and discuss her place within mainstream media.
But Richardson says the class isn't all about Beyonce, despite the name of the course.
"She is the subject matter to an extent, but this could really be about any black woman in media, and in the world," Richardson said in her description of the course. "We would have the same type of tools (for a class on Michelle Obama), the same kind of critical analysis of how she is represented, who she is as a person and what that means in terms of what corporate mainstream media says about black women. It's not just about Beyonce."
UIC students will not be the first to be offered a course on Beyonce. Last year, Rutgers University offered a course called "Politicizing Beyonce." This year, coinciding with the UIC class, the University of Texas Austin is offering a course called "Beyonce Feminism, Rihanna Womanism."
Students will have in-class discussions about the singer and mainstream media as well as write critical essays, read black feminist texts and create a musical autoethnography, according to the course description.