Beyoncé is coming to campus, not for a show, but in a drama course. This new course, titled “Gender and Performance,” is being offered by an assistant professor of drama, Naila Keleta-Mae. The course is intended to showcase the diversity and success that women of colour have achieved over the years.</p>
Gender and Performance will look to explore the challenges women have faced in order to get where they are, using Beyoncé as a case study. Keleta-Mae said, “It’s not Beyoncé in general, it’s her last album which was released in December of 2013. It’s the first time that Beyoncé took up the term ‘feminist’ in her music.”
In Beyoncé, the singer-songwriter included an excerpt from Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TEDx talk on feminism. She included the title, “We Should All Be Feminists” in her lyrics, referencing an African writer and directly connecting it to her own American pop culture music — a daring and supportive leap on Beyoncé’s part, constructing her well-known and in-demand music and bringing it a step further into feminist progression. Keleta-Mae explained that,“Beyoncé’s album, because it is also a visual album … has 14 songs and 17 videos, so there is a plethora of virtual images to think about when it comes to constructions of gender that she’s feeling and the narrative of gender that she is exposing to that work.”
This course will look into Beyoncé as an individual and how her career has worked to introduce many people into feminism. It is her wealth and success that established her as an icon and back up the framework of the Gender and Performance course; the course will go further to explore the accessibility of Beyoncé’s feminism. This particular study is going to allow students to review and analyze mainstream performances and their relation to other social issues that we face such as gender equality, gender establishment, the binary, and feminist thinking.
In response to concerns students may have about the value in a course on Queen Bey, Keleta-Mae assures skeptics that this course fits into everyday life. “Performance studies is routinely [about] any performance we do in daily life, so it can be performance art or how we present ourselves.” Studying performance allows us to broaden our knowledge of what is in and around our lives constantly. It also gives us the chance to add on to what we experience in culture in a very different way, taking on modern concepts to showcase the ever-changing times that we live in.
“Beyoncé’s reach in terms of the world is significant,” Keleta-Mae said, and the influence that media has on our own perspectives is certainly worth considering. So even if you’re not drunk in love with the idea of a Beyoncé course, there’s value in studying the impact her music has on feminism.