March 9, 2012

At University of Maryland, a class about Lady Gaga (PICS)

Lady Gaga, subject of scholarship at the University of Maryland. (Associated Press) Back in my college days, I thought I was pulling a fast one on my parents when I called to tell them I was taking a 3-credit course on golf.

Times change.

Here is the title of a class being offered next semester at Maryland’s flagship university: “Advanced Special Topics in Women’s Studies: Lady Gaga, BeyoncĂ©, and Nicki Minaj: Gender and Spectacular Consumption.”

I’m not making this up. The University of Maryland’s Diamondback newspaper reported on the class this week, noting the small seminar “will satisfy a diversity credit” by analyzing “the three stars’ tendencies to shatter gender norms and explore uncharted territory as females in music.”

Maybe it’s because I wouldn’t know Lady Gaga, BeyoncĂ© or Nicki Minaj if they were standing in front of me at Five Guys — my wife can confirm my pop culture idiocy — but this class strikes me as one of those course catalog offerings (golf, ahem) that a student doesn’t exactly need to become a success in life. (Georgetown, I should point out, has offered a class on Jay-Z.)

People will probably disagree with me. These people will probably be Maryland students. Or students everywhere, for all I know. Maybe even lots of bookish adults. I’m willing to take the heat, okay? And I’ll let you decide for yourselves. Here’s what American Studies and Women’s Studies assistant professor Jeffrey McCune, the man who created the class, says about it in the Diamondback newspaper article:

* “This trio of women seem to be entering into a historic moment where we’re seeing much more experimental performances.”

* “On some levels, it’s somewhat sexy. But the goal of this course is to look at the repertoire and work of these folks … and figure out how it is that we can have a discussion about these women as spectacular.”

* “I think that it’s important that education stay both fun, critical and political.”

I agree with McCune on that last point. But Lady Gaga? Really?

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