MUS 391 A01: Beyoncé

Who run the world?
Using Beyoncé as a case study, this course will explore how we can situate popular music as a cultural construct. Starting with Beyoncé's roots as the lead singer of the girl group, Destiny's Child, the class will position her in relationship to girl groups of the 60s. From there, the course will follow her career trajectory through her development as a solo act, film star, and Jay-Z collaborator. Throughout, the class will be exposed to various theoretical concepts from popular music studies. 

Course themes include:

  • What is authenticity in music? How can we apply that label to Beyoncé and/or Sasha Fierce?
  • How does Beyoncé's use of social media tie into larger issues of the fan/artist relationship in the digital world?
  • What is the importance or role of female sexuality in pop music?
  • Can we consider Beyoncé to be a black feminist woman? What do those labels mean in contemporary society?
  • How can we objectively discuss her music and videos?
  • Who is Beyoncé's implied audience?

This course does not require any previous musical knowledge, but will involve a lot of music listening, video watching, and critical thinking. 

Follow the course on Twitter @UVicBeyonce

About the Instructor
Dr. Melissa Avdeeff is a scholar of all things popular.  Her PhD research examined the sociability of mobile music playback devices, such as the iPod.  Melissa has recently given academic talks on Justin Bieber, A Tribe Called Red, BuzzFeed and music criticism, and musicians on Twitter. She has previously lectured at the University of Edinburgh and the University of Alberta.