Taylor Swift course being offered at UCF

As Taylor Swift dropped her highly anticipated The Tortured Poets Department on Friday, the University of Central Florida made an announcement of their own. 

Knights will be able to learn about the Grammy Award-winning artist's music, videos, interviews and media coverage for the second time in the school's history. UCF offered the Rhetoric in Popular Culture course this spring, and it'll be offered again in the fall of 2024. 

" In August, the course will Begin Again with Ms. Swift as the focus. After all, we are in Florida!!!" UCF said on social media, alluding to one of the new tracks on the album featuring Florence + The Machine that's taking the Sunshine State by storm. 


'Florida is one hell of a drug' & everything else Taylor Swift said about state in 'Tortured Poets Department'

Taylor Swift's just-released "The Tortured Poets Department" album features a song called "Florida!!!"

The course, which typically has a class size of 40 students, is taught by associate instructor of writing and rhetoric Emily Prouix and overseen by Stephanie Wheeler. Wheeler is also an associate professor of writing and rhetoric, but also the director of undergrad studies for the College of Arts and Humanities. She said this course focuses on a different aspect of popular culture whenever it's offered, and the decision to hone in on Swift was due to the overwhelming conversations being had about her and her music in recent years. 

UCF student to Taylor Swift: No legal basis for cease and desist over tracking private jet

"She’s at the center of public discourse almost daily — politics, social issues, even her visibility at football games. By digging into all of it, students learn concepts of rhetoric and how to apply them — and they enjoy it," Wheeler said. 

In the past, Rhetoric in Popular Culture has touched on topics like fantasy football, hip-hop, podcasts and Lady Gaga, according to the university. 

"One student in my Lady Gaga class a few years ago was not a fan, but he came to understand what he’d been missing in Gaga’s work. He still sends me updates about her," Wheeler added. 

Wheeler said the main takeaway from the course is for students to be able to understand rhetorical strategies and using that to become a better communicator. 

Orlando International Airport, UCF join in on Taylor Swift album announcement fun

Student Emma Drauer said she enrolled in the Swift-inspired course not because she's a Swift fan, but because she's also interested in unique classes surrounding writing and rhetoric. 

I expected to discuss Taylor’s speeches and interviews, and not her music so much. So, I was surprised when our first assignment focused on the visual rhetoric of her music videos and live performances," Drauer said. "We even analyzed how her clothes help tell a story. That was a great way to introduce a few concepts of rhetoric alongside the assigned reading."

Throughout the course, Prouix would show the class memes and share some insight into parasocial relationships in pop culture. A parasocial relationship is a one-sided relationship, commonly in celebrity fandoms. 

"To Taylor Swift’s credit, she writes so authentically that we develop this strong sense of knowing her, when we don’t. People who criticize her are doing the same thing," Drauer said. "Either way, the parasocial relationship can immediately weaken any rhetorical appeals."

All in all, Drauer and Wheeler both agree that a lot can be learned from Swift – from both her fans, and also those who comment on her life online. 

UCF is not the first university to offer a Swift-inspired course, and it probably won't be the last. In Florida alone, the University of Florida and University of South Florida recently added courses to their catalog. 

Click here for more information about Rhetoric in Popular Culture at UCF.