WUSTL offering 'Politics of Kanye West: Black Genius' course

Starting this semester, Washington University in St. Louis is offering a course on the “Politics of Kanye West: Black Genius and Sonic Aesthetics.”

According to The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the course offers a variety of topics relating to Kanye West, including “Who is Kanye West and Why Is He in the Flashing Lights?,” “Love Lock Down, or Hip-Hop’s Queer Love Languages,” “Touch the Sky: When the Aspirant Turns Genius,” and will also discuss West’s famous interruption of Taylor Swift during the 2009 Music Television Video Music Awards.

The course on the outspoken musician will be taught by Dr. Jeffrey McCune, an Associate Professor who teaches both Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and African and African American Studies.

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West is often in the news for his controversial comments, including most famously his insistence that George W. Bush doesn’t care about black people, made on national television in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

“At that point, I realized the dynamics of this performer, how he embodied multiple fears of black life,” McCune told the Post-Dispatch in reference to West’s accusation against Bush.

More recently, West made a splash by visiting with Donald Trump prior to the inauguration.

McCune told Campus Reform that one of the driving forces behind the creation of the class was student interest, which led him to realize that the course could weave popular culture into an academic setting.

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“Students requested it years ago; I felt it was time. There has to be a space where students can apply the theories, philosophies they learn with the everyday popular culture they consume,” he explained. “The Politics of Kanye West: Black Genius and Sonic Aesthetics is a course which uses Kanye West, his music and its message, to explore a theory of ‘black genius.’ This class is an opportunity—in the midst of the numerous other traditional courses—for a fun, yet rigorous engagement with popular culture and its influence.”

According to The Post-Dispatch, the class is completely full, with some on a waiting list. Previously, Georgia State University offered a course on West in 2015, while the University of Missouri had one that focused on both West and fellow rapper Jay-Z in 2014.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @ChrisNuelle