Earlier this month, Lady Gaga announced that she and Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet Society will launch a nonprofit foundation, to be called Born This Way (after one of Gaga's songs), which will focus on mentoring teenagers and combating bullying, writes Charlotte Allen at Minding the Campus.
The 25-year-old singer, who went from unknown to superstar and multiple Grammy winner in just three years, has attracted much academic analysis – from Gaga-based colleges courses in South Carolina to Harvard's prestigious Berkman Center.
The Berkman Center is a well-funded interdisciplinary think tank whose faculty consists of prestigious professors of law, engineering, and business at Harvard.
After the announcement of the forthcoming Gaga-Berkman partnership, John Palfreay, who is a Harvard law professor and Berkman Center's co-director, in an interview with the Harvard Crimson, praised as "impressive" the "research" that Gaga had done and hailed the forthcoming partnership as "a good chance for Harvard to be one University."
Christa Romanosky, a graduate student at the University of Virginia, made Gaga the centerpiece of her freshman writing course last year, told the student newspaper, the Daily Cavalier:
"We're exploring how identity is challenged by gender and sexuality and how Lady Gaga confronts this challenge."
But does this mean all professors and their graduate students want to do is devote class time and thesis to their record collections?
A freshman writing course list for this fall at the University of Virginia includes sections titled "Gender in Film," "Graffiti and Remix Culture," "Cinematic Shakespeare," "Queer Studies," "Race Matters," "Pirates," and "Female Robots." Allen believes professors who have turned the humanities and social sciences into vehicles for indulging their hobbies and give them intellectual respectability.
"Or at least to make it look that way to outsiders—such as parents—who might wonder why they are spending up to $6,000 per course so that little Johnny or Jenna can write an essay about âTelephone'."