Queen B 101: College Lessons in Stardom

You can spend a whole semester in college studying the stars and never learn a thing about astronomy. Entire classes are now offered on Lil' Kim, "American Idol" and Donald Trump.

Here's a look at some classes where the curriculum seems to have been ripped from the pages of Us magazine, which has not yet been added to "Norton's Anthology of American Literature" as required reading for freshmen.

1. Queen B 101: The Life and Times of Lil' Kim
Syracuse University students taking "Hip-Hop Eshu: Queen B@#$H 101 -- The Life and Times of Lil' Kim" got the ultimate guest speaker last week -- Lil' Kim herself.

It's a good thing the school is in New York. The multiplatinum recording artist has been charged with lying under oath about a shooting incident three years ago involving her posse and rival rapper Foxy Brown's crew. (She has pleaded not guilty.)

Despite the controversy, the school welcomed her with open arms. And the singer, who often shows up at events with little clothing, even dressed for the occasion.

"I am honored and quite proud," the 29-year-old rapper said in a statement before meeting with 100 students and faculty, including English professor Greg Thomas, who invited her to discuss hip-hop culture as one of its leading female stars.

"Her lyrical artistry is nothing short of revolutionary," Thomas told ABC Radio. "It's the art with the most profound sexual politics I've ever seen anywhere."

At Syracuse, Thomas urges students to delve beyond the surface. He kicked off a class by having students transcribe the lyrics to "Get Money," one of the songs Lil' Kim did several years ago with her group Junior M*A*F*I*A.

"After they had basically been compelled to show respect to the song … then we did the video analysis," he said. "They got to see the way that that meaning was translated on video. They were blown away and we've been riding ever since."

2. Making the Grade on 'American Idol'

Calling William Hung: Have we got a class for you! The University of North Carolina is offering students "Examining American Idol Through Musical Critique." The class begins in January, when the fourth season of the show begins.

And, no, Simon Cowell will not be grading the papers.

"We have ready-made case studies for students who want to learn about critiquing music and performance," said assistant professor Jay Grymes, 31, a specialist in Hungarian classical composer Ernst von Dohnanyi -- a subject that's a bit more highbrow.

Each week, students will study the musical styles of contestants. The final project is a paper on who should win and why. The class will have its own voting system, and will choose a winner before the show's final episode.

"The judges give an industry perspective. It'll be interesting to see how students defend their choices," said Grymes. "Ultimately, it's the public who decides."

Former "American Idol' runner-up Clay Aiken is a UNC-Charlotte graduate and third-season winner Fantasia Barrino lives in Charlotte.

But Grymes has yet to receive word from any of the top contestants if they'll be willing to come to class. It's unclear if anyone has even seen Justin Guarini since his ill-fated movie "From Justin to Kelly: With Love."

3. Enter 'The Matrix' of Philosophy
Ready to save humanity? It takes more than a face like Keanu Reeves' to master Emerson College's class in "The Philosophy of 'The Matrix.' "

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...