Taylor Swift or Shakespeare: A Cultural Phenomenon

Universities examine Taylor Swift's academic rise, from songwriting courses to cultural impact, alongside literary giants like Shakespeare.

Taylor Swift and William Shakespeare are two names one would not expect to hear in the same sentence. However, in recent years, the two have become increasingly intertwined in academic circles.

From courses dedicated to Swift’s songwriting to conferences analyzing her cultural impact, it seems that the pop star has become a subject of serious academic study. This article will explore the latest news on Taylor Swift’s growing influence in academia.

Taylor Swift’s Songwriting: A Masterclass

In September 2023, Professor Elizabeth Scala made headlines for her innovative English course at the University of Arkansas, which focuses on Taylor Swift’s songwriting. The course, titled “Taylor Swift’s Songwriting: A Masterclass,” aims to teach students about the art of songwriting through the lens of Swift’s music.

According to Scala, Swift’s songwriting is a perfect example of how to tell a story through music. The course covers narrative structure, character development, metaphor, and imagery in songwriting.

Taylor Swift Conference in Australia

In February 2024, the University of Melbourne will host an academic conference on Taylor Swift’s cultural impact. The conference, backed by seven universities across Australia and New Zealand, aims to engage in “critical dialogue” about Swift’s influence on everything from fandom and pop culture to literature, the economy, and the music industry. The event will occur just days before Swift’s “Eras” tour arrives in Australia.

Taylor Swift in Literature

Taylor Swift’s influence has also made its way into literature courses. Ghent University in Belgium launched a literature course in the fall of 2023 dedicated to the literary merit of Swift’s discography. The University of Texas at Austin offers a course in which students study Swift alongside the texts of William Shakespeare and John Keats. Arizona State University offers a course called “Psychology of Taylor Swift – Advanced Topics of Social Psychology.”

Taylor Swift in the UK

Taylor Swift’s influence has even crossed the pond to the UK. In 2023, Queen Mary University of London offered a summer course dedicated to Swift and literature. The course covered topics such as feminism, celebrity culture, and the role of social media in shaping public opinion.

Swift or Shakespeare?

In September 2023, the Eagle’s Cry, the student newspaper of Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School in New York, published an article titled “BHS Guesses: Swift or Shakespeare?”. The article featured quotes from students who were asked to guess whether a given quote was from a Taylor Swift song or a Shakespeare play. The article highlights the similarities between Swift’s lyrics and Shakespeare’s poetry, such as their use of metaphor and imagery.


Taylor Swift’s growing influence in academia is a testament to her cultural impact. From courses dedicated to her songwriting to conferences analyzing her influence on pop culture and literature, it is clear that Swift has become a subject of serious academic study. As Swift continues to dominate the music industry, it will be interesting to see how her influence shapes the academic world.