Politicizing Beyoncé is an interdisciplinary course, created by Kevin Allred in 2010 at Rutgers University, that attempts to think through contemporary U.S. society and its ever-shifting gender, race, class, and sexual politics by analyzing the music and career of Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter. It's not about politicizing Beyoncé as a person; rather politicizing the gaze through which audiences see her as a performer and artist. The curriculum critically analyzes her work alongside Black feminist texts throughout history in order to practice using intersectionality as an essential analytic tool through which to see all of pop culture and the world.
Beyoncé Knowles is known as many things: singer, songwriter, actress, performer, designer, half of celebrity power couple, wife, mother, legend. But, few take her seriously as a political figure (although this is changing recently due to Beyoncé's own insistence). On the surface, Beyoncé might seem to deploy messages about race, gender, class, and sexuality that appear to coincide with certain stereotypical social norms; but during this course we ask: how does she also challenge our very understanding of these categories? How does Beyoncé's work challenge the boundaries of these categories to make space for and embrace other perhaps more “deviant” bodies, desires, and/or politics? We will position Beyoncé as a progressive, feminist, and queer icon through meticulous examination of her work and career alongside historical and contemporary Black feminist writing. We won't read about Beyoncé; rather, these juxtapositions will put her work in conversation with larger issues in an attempt to answer: can Beyoncé’s music be seen as a blueprint for progressive social change?
Beyoncé’s Pregnancy Announcement was the Coded Political Act We Needed to Kick Off Black History Month - Quartz
“You’re. . .#noangel. . . either”: Uneasy Politics and Dissonant Sonics in Beyoncé’s “No Angel” - Sounding Out! The Sound Studies Blog
©2018 Kevin Allred