Beyoncé ‘upgrades’ UTSA curriculum

Ashlee Morales

The University of Texas at San Antonio made headlines across the nation when word got out that the University was offering a course that focuses on Beyoncé’s groundbreaking audiovisual album, “Lemonade.” The class, titled “Black Women, Beyoncé and Popular Culture,” has caused intrigue and excitement among Yoncé fans and pop culture buffs alike, but the course content is much more serious than it may seem on the surface.

“The course will be new, fun, and exciting—but I expect my students to come in hungry for knowledge and open to new theories about race and gender in popular culture,” Professor Kinitra Brooks described in UTSA’s Sombrilla magazine.

A look at Brooks’ course syllabus proves this class is no Beyoncé listening party. “Lemonade” ultimately serves as a segue to deeper conversations Brooks intends for students in her course to have. According to the syllabus, the class will focus on examining “the sociocultural issues that are most prominent in black womanhood through black feminist theory, literature, music and film.” Students enrolled in the course are required to complete “intensive reading and writing assignments” weekly.

All of this is no surprise; Brooks was a co-instructor for the #BlackLivesMatter (BLM) course UTSA offered in Spring 2016. The course was similarly structured and focused on observing the sociocultural and historical contexts of the BLM movement. The relevance and seriousness of these courses is welcomed by many who think current issues should be discussed more within the classroom.

“I wish more classes like this were offered when I was a student. It’s important to learn and discuss current issues and how they affect society; whether it’s positive or negative,” explained UTSA alumna Itzel Orozco.

Courses that encourage the exploration of social issues are exactly the type of classes expected from a tier one university; a title UTSA is striving to achieve. As the university continues to grow and progress, this kind of thought-provoking, conversation-starting curriculum is going to draw in students who long to engage in meaningful discussions with their peers.

“We need more classes like that to open people’s minds,” UTSA graduate student Alissa Perez said of the new course. “If someone were to say they had a Beyoncé class at UT it wouldn’t be weird, but I was really surprised that we had a Beyoncé class at UTSA.”

Brooks’ Beyoncé-inspired course has sparked a necessary conversation about the yearning many college students have to study social issues as they relate to current events. The unforeseen amount of attention the class has brought UTSA will hopefully continue to inspire the inception of similar courses at both UTSA and other universities across the country.