How to Complete Distribution Requirements While Watching Music Videos

Writing on the theme of "Easing Back into Classes," junior Sheyla tells us about an exciting class on Beyoncé, intersectional identity, and feminism. 

By Sheyla Finkner '19, Biology and Society major

It is a typical Tuesday morning. I walk from my ethics class to a lecture hall on the arts quad, sit down, and pull out my laptop. A few minutes later, my professor walks in and begins playing several Beyoncé music videos over the projector onto the big screen. Our class begins dancing and singing along. After a few videos, the professor begins lecturing and leads a class discussion. As the end of the hour approaches, we hand in our essays, pack up, and head out. This is just an average day in class. Cross-listed in American Studies, Africana Studies and Research Center, English, and Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Departments, my class is better known on campus as “Beyoncé Nation.” Taught by Professor Riché Richardson, “Beyoncé Nation” addresses highly important and relevant topics, such as intersectional identity and intersectional feminism, and creates a space for open dialogue. However, rather than lecturing about such topics, Professor Richardson takes a different approach –  teaching through the example of Beyoncé. By watching Beyoncé music videos and reading biographies and other literature written on Queen Bey, we are able to discuss such important issues and see how she has influenced the conversations around these topics. Let’s face it – we are all a little more excited to attend lecture and learn when it is centered on one of the most iconic celebrities of – dare I say – the century.

Not only is this class fun, informative, and important, but it also completes a distribution requirement! This course fulfills the Literature and the Arts category for Arts and Sciences distribution requirements. While the thought of completing distribution requirements may seem daunting, classes such as “Beyoncé Nation” make it fun and manageable. In addition, there are no core or required classes in Arts and Sciences, so you get to choose what class you want to fill each category with! If “Beyoncé Nation” is not your cup of tea, you can choose from hundreds of other classes that do interest you instead. Distribution requirements are a nice way of taking a step back from your normal coursework and learning about a new topic. Personally, many of my favorite classes at Cornell were those I took because of distribution requirements. As I go through my days filled with biochemistry and ethics, I can always look forward to going to “Beyoncé Nation” to watch some great music videos, learn about the impact of a pop star, and complete a distribution requirement for graduation while I am at it!

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