Special Topics Course: Taylor Swift, Gender, and Communication

Penn State Berks Continuing Education is proud to offer two noncredit Maymester sections for adult learners only (must be 18 years of age or older).  

NOTE: Penn State Berks offers this course both for-credit and noncredit options. The noncredit sections are open for adults in our community, but there are currently no CE courses scheduled.

Registration for current students

If you are a current Penn State student, please refer to CAS 297G: Special Topics in LionPATH for Maymester and fall 2024 sections.

Register on LionPATH

About the Program

Taylor Swift, Gender, and Communication focuses on cultural, political, and social issues that emerge in Taylor Swift’s stories and in the media’s representation of her (and other women) in music. The course will examine her music, media presence, backlash against her popularity, and representations of her in the media through a rhetorical and gender/feminist lens. It will also focus on intersections between music, popular culture, and politics. Students will engage in critical assessment and discussions of Swift’s music and media presence to gain an understanding of how her art expresses, encourages or discourages, and/or reflects cultural values and helps illuminate the human condition. In addition, participants will learn about a variety of ways that identities, values, and political expression are communicated through Swift’s music and will learn how to critically assess and evaluate those messages. The course will use Taylor Swift’s career, as well as other artists with whom she has engaged (positively and negatively), to examine the ways that art can impact our sense of self, our identities, and even impact our political, social, and cultural values. 

Students will engage in critical thinking, rhetorical and media criticism skills, and learn and apply vocabulary related to issues in diversity, equity, inclusion, and bellowing. Topics covered include:

  • History of Gender and Music
  • Music, Rhetoric, and Identity
  • Growing Up in the Media
  • Women vs. Women
  • Taylor and Feminism 
  • Responses to Taylor Swift

Meet the Instructor

E. Michele Ramsey is an associate professor of communication arts and sciences and women's gender, and sexuality studies at Penn State Berks. She founded the major in communication arts and sciences at the college. Dr. Ramsey's research interests include representations of gender in the media, women's rights rhetoric, social movement rhetoric, and political rhetoric.