University of Basel to offer a course on Taylor Swift

University of Basel to offer a course on Taylor Swift

Rather than bury themselves in writings by Shakespeare, Shelley and Twain, English students at the University of Basel will soon be able to study a subject they might know all too well: Taylor Swift. Academics at the university assured that the course would not leave students with a blank space, arguing the study of Swift is quite valuable.

Taylor Swift university course launches in Basel

Starting in the spring semester of 2024, those studying English in Basel will be able to take a course on Taylor Swift, focusing on the discography of who is one of the highest-grossing artists in the world. According to the university, “This course focuses on discussion and interpretation of the lyrics of the songs” created by the Nashville starlet.

Essential reading (well, essential listening as well) includes the lyrics from the songs of all 10 albums Taylor Swift released between 2006 and 2022 - from Taylor Swift to Midnights. Speaking to bz Basel, course leader Andrew Shields confirmed that “64 people have registered” for the course so far, adding that they have already had to expand their lecture venue to accommodate demand.

New module inspired by Taylor's Era's Tour

The academic explained that the idea came to him when he and his family managed to get tickets to Taylor Swift’s Era’s Tour in Zurich, a global event that is already the highest-grossing tour of all time and the first to surpass a revenue of 1 billion US dollars. "A literary seminar on Swift seemed to me to be the ideal preparation for this," he explained.

However, the announcement of a Taylor Swift course led to some bad blood between Shields and the internet, with him admitting that when he “announced the course on Facebook, there were several negative comments…Swift’s success is only due to good marketing, some wrote.” However, rather than asking them to calm down, Shields finds it quite easy to shake the criticism off, predicting that he would probably get the same reaction had he announced a course on the Beatles in the 1960s.

Songs of Taylor Swift are worthy of study, academic argues

In fact, Shields argued that a study of Tay Tay’s lyrics is worth the effort: “Anyone who claims that the texts are mediocre has never looked into them in detail.” “Swift’s lyrics were rich in literature from the first album on… The criticism that Swift's music was too accessible and therefore shallow is similar to the criticism that existed at the end of the 18th century about the 'reading addiction' of women who read supposedly trivial novels," he continued.

The academic pointed out several Swift songs worthy of study - from “The Lakes”, a tuneful exploration of the Lake Poets like William Wordsworth, to her story-driven country ballads and Mad Woman, a song that vividly equates her previous media controversies with the media trope of describing some women as “hysterical or crazy.”

However, Shields assured that the course will not be a load of “Swifties” mutually acknowledging the deeper symbolism of “We are never, ever, ever, getting back together.” “If students think that our seminar will only be about how great Taylor Swift is for 14 weeks, they are likely to be disappointed,” he concluded. For more information, check out the official course page.

Thumb image credit: Brian Friedman /

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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