In 2010—long before the release of Lemonade—Professor Kevin Allred created the university course “Politicizing Beyoncé” to both wide acclaim and controversy. He outlines his pedagogical philosophy in Ain’t I a Diva?, exploring the process of teaching Beyoncé and what it means to use a superstar to blow up the canon. Allred brings his syllabus to life by pairing music videos and songs with historical and academic texts, and combines analysis with classroom anecdotes. Topics range from a capitalist critique of “Run the World (Girls)” to the politics of self-care found in “Flawless”; Beyoncé’s art is read alongside Black feminist thinkers including Kimberlé Crenshaw, Octavia Butler, and Sojourner Truth.
Interrogating the entertainer’s career through a media studies lens, Allred attests that pop culture is so much more than a guilty pleasure—it’s an access point for education, entertainment, critical inquiry, and politics.
“Proving himself a worthy member of the BeyHive, Kevin Allred takes us on a journey through Beyoncé’s greatest hits and expansive career—peeling back their multiple layers to explore gender, race, sexuality, and power in today’s modern world. A fun, engaging, and important read for long-time Beyoncé fans and newcomers alike.” —Franchesca Ramsey, author of Well, That Escalated Quickly