Several months ago, the Internet was worked up over a new sociology class being offered at the University of South Carolina: Lady Gaga and the Sociology of the Fame. I read numerous articles about this with a number asking some variation on the question, “How exactly is this proper material for a college course?”
A student in the course offers an inside view – and it sounds like they are doing what the course title says: sociology.
I’m four classes into “Lady Gaga and the Sociology of the Fame,” and every day, someone new demands, “What are you doing in there?” Maybe, like Cosmo, they envision that I clothe myself in bubble wrap and lunch meat as part of my pre-class ritual…
This is a serious course about the sociology of music. What it does not cover: The coded symbolism behind “Alejandro”; Gaga’s decision to wear a dress made of Kermit the Frogs; whether she has a disco stick for real. This is, as my professor underlines, a class about the social conditions that contribute to the fame of Lady Gaga.
And here is the description of the final project for the class:
At this point, we will turn in research papers detailing a single social condition contributing to Gaga’s fame – and then, we will analyze her fame. The findings of our papers will have an effect on the direction of discussion because, as Deflem argues, fame is as much about the fans that popularize the famous as it is about the artist.
Although the subject matter and the title are aimed at gaining attention (it seems to have worked to some degree as the student says some students are in the class because they are curious – though I doubt the school could have guessed at the number of outside people who ended up commenting on the class), the class sounds like a fairly normal sociology class: to explain why social life happens as it does.
And the headline, “Why Lady Gaga Class Is Not Sexy,” seems misleading as the student suggests she keeps coming back to class to see “where this semester is going and just how Gaga we’re going to get.”