Reading Taylor Swift as a Cultural and Political Text


It’s the UConn Popcast, and Taylor Swift is by some measures the most popular person on the planet. Her periodic reinventions set the mass cultural terms of debate, and her political interventions – through exhorting her fans on social media – lead to huge spikes in voter registration. It is hoped by Democrats, and feared by Republicans, that a Taylor endorsement of Joe Biden in 2024 might meaningfully tip the scales in favor of reelection.

In  this episode, we consider Taylor Swift as a popular and political text, over which she exercises substantial, but not total, authorial control. What role in the culture does she play? How should we interpret her recent association with the NFL? How do the parasocial relationships of her fans – “Swifties” – to the artist herself contribute to authorship of the Taylor text. And how should we read the counter-subversive conspiratorial responses to her halting forays into electoral politics?

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UConn PopCast

Analysis of popular culture and how it shapes society, with an emphasis on film and television. Features in-depth discussion, interviews with prominent scholars, and recordings of live shows. Hosted by Stephen Dyson, the associate director of the University of Connecticut Humanities Institute, and a professor of political science, and Jeffrey R. Dudas, professor of political science and affiliate faculty of American Studies at the University of Connecticut.

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