The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Learning Gaga

This winterim, UW–Eau Claire’s English department will be offering a new course, one which explores the representation of a well-known pop star: Lady Gaga.

This course is not just an excuse to fawn over the singer; Lady Gaga Studies, or ENGL 272, will focus on representations of the pop star in social and mass media.

Students who choose to take this class will also be delving into discussion-based critiques of her performances and will be analyzing her place in, and effect on, popular society.

Professor Michael Faris, who is teaching this course, said that he hopes students evolve their critical thinking ability to more fully analyze various aspects of society.

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“I think walking away from the course with an opinion about Lady Gaga is not as important as walking away from the course understanding that in popular arguments and academic arguments, you can draw on pop culture phenomena in order to make claims about different aspects of things — whether it’s gender, fame, pop culture, social justice issues — all sorts of things,” Faris said.

A textbook titled, “Gaga Feminism: Sex, Gender and the End of Normal” will be utilized throughout the winterim class. Faris said he hopes to engage in arguments through writing and in-class discussion.

Tara Young, a junior, said it sounds like an interesting course to look into further.

“She’d be a really controversial person to study because she promotes different things,” Young said. “She uses that image of ‘Lady Gaga’ to support or bring attention to certain issues that are going on in society.”

Her influence will be analyzed in depth and various materials will be examined as a class.

A viewing of her HBO special concert provides visual aid to enhance thought.

Nicole Schultz, a communications professor and women’s studies program affiliate, said that she thinks it is a great idea to apply such a mainstream activist as a tool for evocative discussion about social issues and those who strive for equality.

“Having a class where you’re looking at–regardless of her intent — ‘this is the outcome and this is the influence,’ I think is powerful,” Schultz said.

Faris said that because he believes most of Lady Gaga’s supporters are also in favor of gay and transgender rights, those issues will undoubtedly be spoken about in context to the singer as well.

“I think a huge base of her fans is, if not LGBT people, at least people who are aligned with that politics of inclusion in some way, but also gender non-conformity.”

Faris added that he really would like to focus on gender and how it is manipulated within our current generation. He said that Lady Gaga is a good representative for that given the style of clothes she wears to award shows and the performance of “You and I” she gave dressed in drag at the MTV VMAs in 2011.

The course will be offered through winterim 2013 for three weeks, beginning Jan. 2.


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Learning Gaga