Politicizing Beyonce

AS Program Board Presents… a lecture about the one and only Queen B. Kevin Allred will be presenting a conversation with black feminist texts to open up the dialogue on Beyonce and feminism. Beyoncé Knowles-Carter is known as many things: singer, songwriter, actress, performer, half of hip hop and R&B’s most powerful couple, even fashion designer. But few take her seriously as a political figure. This course will attempt to think about our contemporary U.S. society and its current class, racial, gender, and sexual politics through the music and career of Beyoncé. On the surface, she might deploy messages about race, gender, class, and sexuality that appear conservative in relation to social norms, but during this course we will ask: how does she also challenge our very understanding of these categories? How does Beyoncé push the boundaries of these categories to make space for and embrace other perhaps more “deviant” bodies, desires, and/or politics? We will attempt to position Beyoncé as a progressive, feminist, and even queer figure through close examination of her music alongside readings on political issues, both contemporary and historical. We will juxtapose Beyoncé’s music with writings on black feminism and the black female experience in the U.S. (and beyond), to attempt to answer: can Beyoncé’s music be seen as a blueprint for progressive social change?