Back in 2013, Bey unleashed a surprise, self-titled visual album that upended the model for releasing such projects and ignited a conversation about Beyoncé’s brand of feminism.
Black feminism can provide an alternative to white, European feminism, and introduce new ways of thinking.
Many young women embraced the pop star as a feminist icon, cloaking themselves in Bey’s message to be a boss, while others were critical of the singer, accusing her of borrowing the label just to appear edgy. Black feminist scholar bell hooks even called Bey a terrorist because of her willingness to engage in capitalism and express her sexuality, and because of her outsized impact on young girls. The debate only intensified after the artist released her Grammy-winning follow-up “Lemonade,” an album many black women considered a love letter to #BlackGirlMagic and resilience.
While the debate over whether Beyoncé is a feminist will no doubt rage on, this fall the battleground will expand to the University of Copenhagen, where students will explore the topic in a new class aptly titled Beyoncé, Gender and Race. Professor Erik Steinskog will be teaching the course, which he hopes will serve as an introduction to black feminist theory.
“Academically, the course is built on two pillars: Beyoncé as a performer and black feminism,” Steinskog told the university’s magazine, Uniavisen. “She’s a controversial feminist, which is crucial. She makes us consider what it means to be a feminist – or what it can mean, but her feminism is addressed to a non-academic audience.”
Steinskog has studied and written extensively about Afrofuturism and hopes the class will serve as a primer on black feminism for his Scandinavian students.
“Black feminism can provide an alternative to white, European feminism, and introduce new ways of thinking about feminism,” he explained. “Theory written by black women presents a different point of view and a different frame of reference that can expose us Scandinavians to new ideas.”
Beyoncé isn’t the only music superstar to have her own university course this fall. Earlier this year, Georgia Tech announced it was offering students Engaging the Lyrics of Outkast and Trap Music to Explore Politics of Social Justice, while a Georgetown professor is teaching The Sociology of Hip-Hop: The Urban Theodicy of Jay-Z, featuring Beyoncé’s husband.