Stylers, you may want to consider enrolling in this upcoming course!
BY NIC CROSARA
Do you consider yourself to be the number one Harry Styles fan? Have you obsessed over the star from the very beginning of his One Direction origin? Are you unsure of what academia pursuits to go for? Well… you’ll be delighted to hear that soon you’ll be able to take a course on Harry Styles. And no, we are not pulling your leg.
Texas State University is preparing to offer the first-ever course on the As It Was singer, with classes led by Dr Louie Dean Valencia with classes set to start in spring 2023. The course is named: Harry Styles and the Cult of Celebrity: Identity, the Internet and European Pop Culture. Quite the mouthful. It is set to explore “cultural and political development of the modern celebrity as related to questions of gender and sexuality, race, class, nation and globalism, media, fashion, fan culture, internet culture and consumerism.”
When asked by Dazed why Valencia thinks Harry is so culturally important he had this to say: “Harry is the only musician I’d considered doing such a course on. His work has been part of my life since the early One Direction days. One Direction got me through my PhD work, and his solo work got me through a pandemic!”
He shared that the idea came when he started to work on a book on the world around Harry and discovered that his love of Harry opened a lot of conversations with students “beyond the superficialities some might expect”. “We’ve talked about issues around globalism, consumerism, environmentalism, self-love, amongst other things – all starting from Harry’s work and activism. I realised students were really interested in getting to know the world around them, grounded in a conversation about someone they felt they grew up with.”
Whilst Harry is inherently cool – it’s not up for debate – a large portion of his fanbase are teenage girls. And as we know, in the sexist world that is our reality, anything that girls engage with is deemed “uncool” or “childish” so it’s no surprise that people have critiqued the course.
I admit that when I first read the headlines I certainly didn’t have it on my 2022 bingo card. But when I started to think about it, it made perfect sense. Whilst I never took a course focused on one singular person, throughout my education I’ve had large chunks of my classes focusing on far less culturally relevant people and topics. And no, I wouldn’t consider myself as part of the “Stylers” community, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t frequently come up in conversations I’ve had with peers. My friends and I have brought him up when talking about the oppressive nature of the gender binary, when talking about allyship and when talking about fashion, music or film. And that’s just scratching the surface.
When asked by Dazed about whether he thinks it’s time we stopped treating pop music fandom and pop-culture as trivial and unimportant, Valencia said: “I think there are a lot of people who think that studying popular culture is a waste of time. However, as any historian will tell you, to understand any historical event it’s important to understand the cultural zeitgeist around it. When we look back at any historical period we always look to the artists, writers, and dreamers to get a pulse of the times.”
If you’re looking to get your fix of Harry in the meantime, you have plenty to look forward to. He’s starring in Don’t Worry Darling which is out in cinemas 23 September as well as taking on the leading role in the upcoming queer romance My Policeman which is premiering in theatres on 21 October.
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