As with Taylor Swift earlier this year, New York University’s Clive Davis Institute has introduced a course on Lana Del Rey for this fall. Taught by journalist and author Kathy Iandoli, the two-credit Subjects in Recorded Music: Lana Del Rey course runs October 20-December 12. 8th.
According to an NYU representative, the class will explore Del Rey’s contributions to becoming a 21st-century pop star, her relationship with feminism, her musical influences and artists who have influenced her, and her connection to social justice movements such as #BlackLlivesMatter, #MeToo and # Investigate TimesUp. Del Rey received the Decade Award diversity‘s Hitmakers event in December.
The course description is: Over the course of eight critically acclaimed albums, the six-time Grammy-nominated artist introduced a sad, melancholic, and baroque take on dream pop that, in turn, helped push the sound (and vibe) of mainstream music beyond the 2010s to change and reinvent. Through her compelling imagery and her thematic attention to mental health and stories of toxic, damaged love, Del Rey provided a new platform for artists of all genders to create “anti-pop” works that could live in a mainstream that was once known as chewing gum has been categorized.
Speaking to Variety, Iandoli says, “In many ways, I feel like Lana Del Rey is both a blueprint and a cautionary tale, a complicated pop star who resonates with her fans so much, not because she makes them feel for herself conveyed, but how she makes them feel about themselves. Through her music, she has changed the parameters of baroque pop, and now “sad girl pop” in particular, by expanding the sometimes controversial and challenging themes. There are so many pieces in this mosaic that we have now come to know as Lana Del Rey, and this course explores every dimension of it.”
Chaired by veteran music writer and musician Jason King, the Davis Institute has included classes from Questlove, “Dilla Time” author Dan Charnas, Q-Tip, legendary producer and engineer Bob Power, and many others.
Of the Del Rey course, King told Variety, “When we offer artist-related courses at the Clive Davis Institute, we always ask: How does this artist’s work help students think through larger and complex cultural, social, or political issues or movements ? Lana Del Rey reflects so many changes in contemporary culture as the role of contemporary women in popular music continues to evolve. Studying Lana Del Rey means taking a more critical look at the growing popularity of so-called anti-pop. It means finding ways to accommodate increased interest in mental health and issues of mental harm, and to assess changes in their thinking about identity, particularly in relation to race, gender, nation, and class. Lana is particularly relevant and controversial when it comes to changing perceptions of intersectional feminism over the past decade.
“The purpose of our artist-themed courses at the Clive Davis Institute is to encourage students to think more deeply and critically about the icons they admire and to develop a historical and contextual understanding of these artists,” he continues. “Students are expected to approach the study of Lana Del Rey with the same critical lens that they use to study Led Zeppelin or John Coltrane or Bob Marley or Stevie Wonder or Joni Mitchell in any of the other majors we offer writing /History/Tackle Emergent Media Studies. There is also a growing body of academic research and scholarly discourse on Lana Del Rey that attempts to assess her cultural significance and influence, and students read and reflect on some of the work in class.”