Beyoncé is the subject of a new seminar offered at Wake Forest University in North Carolina. But this isn’t a fluff class — the course covers some powerful subjects, including feminism, race, and privacy and social media.Casey Wasserman, Ph.D., visiting assistant professor at Wake Forest who teaches a first-year writing course centered around music and cultural studies, was asked to come up with an idea for a new seminar for first-year students. This was right around the time that Beyoncé’s fifth album dropped in late 2013 — a mix of 14 songs and 17 documentary-style videos that garnered a lot of buzz.Wasserman pitched a 14-week course, “Deconstructing Beyoncé,” which was green-lighted. “I knew we could discuss some serious social and cultural issues by looking at Beyoncé’s most recent work because, for the most part, she was familiar, accessible and would be a great starting point,” Wasserman told YouBeauty in an interview, admitting she’s a big fan of Queen Bey.The course kicks off by looking at basic theories and approaches to the study of popular culture. “I wanted students to understand how they were going to be engaging in debates that have been circulating longer than most of them have been alive,” said Wasserman. “It was really important to have students know that they were going to be doing some serious intellectual heavy lifting. From there, we looked at how celebrities are constructed or created and how we, as consumers and fans, are responsible for celebrity culture.”Students will also discuss privacy and social media by looking at Instagram and selfies and how images circulate both with and without celebrity permission. Students also watched documentaries to see how celebrities, including Beyoncé, control their own narratives. “We spent a lot of time discussing feminism since in many circles this was considered Beyonce’s ‘feminist album,’ but we also discussed sex and sexuality, cultural memory, and the debates surrounding Beyonce’s inclusion of audio from the Challenger disaster and the inclusion of Jay Z’s reference to domestic violence in the Tina Turner bio-pic ‘What’s Love Got to Do With It.’”There were class discussions on how celebrities are created and how they build relationships with their fans — specifically, how Beyoncé engages with her fans through social media. “She introduces many of her fans to feminist writers and thinkers they might not have been familiar with prior to encountering her album,” noted Wasserman. “She challenges her fans to think about the power of sex and sexuality, as well as feminism, as many of us might think we understand it.”Wasserman hopes that students come away from the course as savvier consumers of popular culture. “I can’t even begin to express how much this group of students impressed me on a daily basis,” she said. “They consistently raised important questions and were willing to have difficult and mature discussions about race, sexuality and contentious social issues. Having students learn how to respectfully disagree with each other while discussing hot-button issues was another goal, and I feel confident we achieved it.”She added: “I hope my students walk away with the confidence to question the world around them. Everything is worthy of serious critical consideration, and I would like to think they now recognize their own capabilities as smart, engaged cultural critics.”Related Articles:Beyoncé Accused of Photoshopping Her Instagram Selfies Again What Beyonce’s Haircut Can Do For You