From “Formation” to “Lemonade,” this course utilizes the artistry, musicianship and feminism of Beyoncé to explore deeper issues of patriarchy, racism, classism and sexism in society.
More from Fall 2018
More in Campus News: Alma Matters
Topics: John V. Roach Honors College
Beyonce Knowles-Carter performs onstage during the 2018 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in California. Getty Images © Larry Busacca / Staff
About the course: This honors course uses contemporary music icon Beyoncé Knowles-Carter as a lens to examine academic ideas of intersectionality and black feminist thought. In studying other contemporary pop and hip-hop artists, students are provided a cultural link to issues such as economic inequality, white supremacy and the #MeToo movement.
Instructor: Lynn Hampton, lecturer in the John V. Roach Honors College
Class times: Wednesdays, 4 to 6:40 p.m.
Class size: 12 senior honors students
Texts: We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Anchor Books, 2014)
Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment by Patricia Hill Collins (Routledge, 2000)
Talking Back: Thinking Feminist, Thinking Black by bell hooks (Between the Lines, 1989)
Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde (The Crossing Press, 1984)
Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower by Brittney Cooper (St. Martin’s Press, 2018)
An array of academic articles as well as contemporary news stories, videos and social media posts
Classwork: Weekly reflection essays consisting of 500-word explorations of an assigned reading
Leading a class discussion in which students connect a Beyoncé song with ideas of intersectionality and feminism
A critical analysis on Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s We Should All Be Feminists
A final project examining a societal problem and analyzing it from an intersectional perspective through scholarly texts, empirical methods and critical engagement with the arts
— Compiled by Zach Martino
Your comments are welcome
Back on November 28, I posted a comment on the TCU Facebook page after reading about a colloquium offered in the University Honors College. I also sent it as a letter to the editor of TCU Magazine.
Because it was not fawning praise for the program, I doubt it will see the light of day. However, in the interest of academic freedom, in in the interest of my doing my small part to make suggestions for the betterment of my alma mater, I send you all a copy of my letter:
TCU never fails to amaze its alumni.
Now, in TCU magazine,[ https://magazine.tcu.edu/fall-2018/beyonce-and-intersectionality/ ] is the report of an “Honors” Colloquium – the description given is “…This honors course uses contemporary music icon Beyoncé Knowles-Carter as a lens to examine academic ideas of intersectionality and black feminist thought. In studying other contemporary pop and hip-hop artists, students are provided a cultural link to issues such as economic inequality, white supremacy and the #MeToo movement.”
I was in the Honors Program at the beginning – I attended TCU from 1962-1966, attaining cum laude Bachelor’s degree, with University and Departmental Honors (Physics). Subsequently, I attended Rice, obtaining a Master’s and a Ph.D. in Physics. Since I was in it from the first, I feel that I can comment on this. I think that the founding director, Dr. Paul Wassenich, would be appalled.
This class appears more of an indoctrination exercise than even a discussion course. I took “The Nature of Values” as one of my Honor Colloquia. It at least purported to be a class that would examine all sides of an issue, although because of the facilitator, a Psychology “professor” whose name I did not find it important enough to remember, it tried to impose his views on the class. Because I had an alternative view (that there really were absolute values), each class meeting was a struggle, and I eventually shut down my comments (as they say, don’t try to teach a pig to sing, it can’t be done, and it annoys the pig). Because I did not toe the professor’s line, and did not change my views, I got a lower grade.
I am hopeful that this class will allow a diverse set of students, and will (uncharacteristic of “higher education” in America today) allow a diverse set of interpretations of the clearly slanted texts listed, although because of some of the charged words (intersectionality, white supremacy, etc.), I doubt that will occur. If it does not allow a diversity of thought and a diversity of conclusions, it negates the idea of academic freedom. If it is simply a mechanism for the students to parrot the professor’s [sorry, the lecturer’s] prejudices, then it wastes the student’s time and money. Just give the students a list of the lecturer’s acceptable views, and a good grade, and go on to more important things.
Perhaps it might even things out if it included the article from New York Magazine, “Is Intersectionality a Religion?”[ http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2017/03/is-intersectionality-a-religion.html ]. This article states “‘Intersectionality’ is the latest academic craze sweeping the American academy. On the surface, it’s a recent neo-Marxist theory that argues that social oppression does not simply apply to single categories of identity — such as race, gender, sexual orientation, class, etc. — but to all of them in an interlocking system of hierarchy and power.” I doubt that a course which makes intersectionality a central part of the discussion will be anything but indoctrination.
The article also shows what behavior (disruption of opposing views) results from looking at things through the lens of “intersectionality” – I would hope (in vain, probably) that TCU or at least the Honors College would review the description, and make sure that it is conducted in a way which respects academic freedom.
Oh, and just to quibble, please put a comma after the Word “supremacy” in the course description [as to why, research the “Oxford Comma”].
Dr. Snyder, please see page 6 of the Winter 2019 magazine. If you have not received your copy yet, it should find you soon.
Thank you – Have not yet received it.
After re-examing my transcript from 1966 (53 years ago!) it was Nature of Man, Not Nature of Values. Nevertheless, I would like to hear of the students’ experiences with this class.
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