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

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

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, 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!

More Short Talks 

portrait of Caree Banton


Caree Banton, director of the African and African American Studies Program, talks about the critical and nuanced interdisciplinary perspective students develop in the program.

portrait of Paul Thibado


The groundbreaking research of physics professor Paul Thibado examines how to use graphene, a one-atom-thick layer of carbon, to generate small amounts of electricity.

portrait of Jeffrey Murdock


Jeffrey Murdock, recipient of the Grammy Music Educator Award and an associate professor of music education, believes in meeting students where they are and unlocking a new way of thinking.




Matt McGowan, science and research communications officer
University Relations


U of A Bands to Hold Three Nights of Concerts

The Symphonic Band, the Wind Symphony, the 4 O'Clock and 5 O'Clock Bands and the Wind Ensemble will perform April 21-23 at the Faulkner Performing Arts Center on the U of A campus.

Honors College to Host 'Best in Show' Dog Celebration

The campus and community are invited to celebrate our furry friends with popsicles, water and dog treats from 3-4 p.m. Thursday, April 25, in the Gearhart Courtyard.

New Parasite Affecting Canadian Partridges Named for Arkansas Poultry Scientist

A long-time colleague in Canada gave a newly found parasite the scientific name Eimeria hargisi in honor of U of A poultry science researcher Billy Hargis.

U of A School of Law Student Selected for Ms. J.D. Leadership Academy Intensive

Tristan Branstetter-Thomas, a second-year law student, was one of 30 students from across the country chosen to participate in the leadership academy at the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law in Chicago.

Needy Honored as Distinguished Alumna of University of Pittsburgh Engineering College

College of Engineering Dean Kim Needy was among seven alumni of the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering honored in April as part of the 2024 Class of Distinguished Alumni.

News Daily