Serious institutions of higher learning are taking popular culture seriously. On the heels of Harvard’s class on The Wire, the University of Idaho’s class on Pokémon Go and Rutgers University’s class on Beyoncé, among others, comes a Washington University in St. Louis class on Kanye West.
Entitled Politics of Kanye West: Black Genius and Sonic Aesthetics, the 75-student class began this week. The class is being taught by an associate professor in the African and African-American Studies and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies departments, Dr. Jeffrey McCune — who is literally writing the book on Kanye.
McCune says that the class will focus on “black genius and the impossibility of black genius for the American public,” while also investigating “issues of politics, race, gender, sexuality, and culture.”
A fan of Kanye, particularly his Graduation album, McCune promises that the class will be even-handed, that along with lectures like “Touch the Sky, When the Aspirant Turns Genius,” there will be ones like “The Swift Movement.”
It was the students of Washington University who helped inspired the course; McCune noticed that young academics in his classes were “always referencing [West's] music and performances and videos and fashion.” Which led him to ask himself, “What better time than now to take seriously Kanye West as a cultural icon?”
The class has proved to be incredibly popular; at capacity, its waiting list is growing. If, however, you would like to hear McCune’s thoughts on West and are not one of the students enrolled in his class, you’re in luck, as long as you’re in St. Louis. The professor will be giving lectures open to the public on February 15, March 15 and April 12 at Washington University.