Musicologist Christa Bentley Discusses Singer-Songwriter and Mega Superstar Taylor Swift

Musicologist Christa Bentley Discusses Singer-Songwriter and Mega Superstar Taylor Swift
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Few artists have accomplished what Taylor Swift has managed to do over the past several years. Like the Beatles, Swift has achieved near mythological status, transitioning from pop star to cultural phenomenon. 

She is both unplugged and pyrotechnic, a singer-songwriter performing solo on programs such as NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts and a mega superstar on a stadium tour with full band and elaborate stage productions, including dancers, fireworks and glitter guns.  

In this month’s Short Talks from the Hill, Christa Bentley, assistant professor of musicology in the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, discusses her research and contribution to Taylor Swift: The Songs, The Star, The Fans, a new collection of essays about Swift’s artistic projects and cultural power.  

“The reason why we wanted to talk about Taylor Swift and the purpose of the book is to use her as a prism for understanding the many different facets of popular music, such as copyright and issues for women in the industry, LGBTQ+ interpretations of her work, and then also to use Taylor Swift as a prism for understanding kind of broader cultural phenomena, like fandom and social media.”

Bentley’s chapter focuses on Swift’s acoustic sets, including the Tiny Desk show in 2019. She says the acoustic sets allow Swift to create a different kind of relationship with the audience, as well as a different relationship between the audience and her music.    

“These acoustic sets – and especially the way that she's put them out on digital media – is a chance for her to craft this idea of herself as a songwriter,” Bentley says in the podcast. 

You can listen to Bentley discuss her research by clicking on the link above or by visiting arkansasresearch.uark.edu, the home of research and economic development news at the U of A.

Short Talks programming is available wherever you get your podcasts. Previous podcasts can be found at the link above.

Thank you for listening!


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Contacts

Matt McGowan, science and research communications officer
University Relations
479-575-4246, dmcgowa@uark.edu

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