February 2012 cover SCAN ;St. Catherine University St. Catherine University
February 2012
 
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Gaga Over Gaga

Honors seminar helps students put the pop star in context.

Lady Gaga, or "Mother Monster," as her fans call her, is pop star du jour. The Associated Press has named her "Entertainer of The Year." Forbes magazine ranked her the highest-grossing female musician in 2011.

This winter, St. Kate's is offering an honors seminar on her body of work.

"The Music and Image Monster: Lady Gaga in Context," which meets the University's fine arts and women's studies core requirements, explores how the singer's music and art are informed — consciously or not — by a host of ideas, individuals and movements. Students engage in readings under themes such as "Gaga and Post-Modernism," "Lady Gaga: Good Taste, Bad Taste?" "Gaga and the Gaze," "Gaga and the Catholic Imagination" and "Gaga and Feminism."

Assignments include analyzing Gaga's use of Catholic imagery in her music and music videos by discussing them within the sociological framework of Andrew Greeley's book The Catholic Imagination. Students will read excerpts from Kate Millett's 1969 book Sexual Politics, which represents the high-water mark of Second Wave feminist theory, to place Gaga within a broader history of feminism.

The 15 students must also dissect a Gaga video with the music and visual art analysis skills they learn in class, and turn in either a 10- to 12-page research paper or a creative project that responds to her artistic enterprise.

"We are excited to teach this course because Lady Gaga is a master of music and image in a way that captivates the popular imagination, particularly that of our students," says Amy Hamlin, assistant professor of art and art history. Assistant Professor of Music Allison Adrian is also teaching the course.

The idea for this four-credit seminar came out of an honor's course, "Music, the Visual Arts and Politics in the Twentieth Century," that the duo taught in winter 2010.

"In that course, we explored particularly potent episodes in the collaboration between music and visual artists over the course of the 20th century," Hamlin explains. "We were struck by how often Lady Gaga came up in those classroom discussions. So, we resolved to propose a course devoted solely to Gaga." - Pauline Oo