In 2010—long before the release of Lemonade—Professor Kevin Allred created the university course “Politicizing Beyoncé” to both wide acclaim and controversy. He outlines his pedagogical philosophy in Ain’t I a Diva?, exploring the process of teaching Beyoncé and what it means to use a superstar to blow up the canon. Allred brings his syllabus to life by pairing music videos and songs with historical and academic texts, and combines analysis with classroom anecdotes. Topics range from a capitalist critique of “Run the World (Girls)” to the politics of self-care found in “***Flawless”; Beyoncé’s art is read alongside Black feminist thinkers including Kimberlé Crenshaw, Octavia Butler, and Sojourner Truth.
Examining the entertainer’s career alongside the work of Black feminist thinkers, Allred shows how pop culture is so much more than a guilty pleasure—it’s an access point for education, entertainment, critical inquiry, and politics. Includes a foreword by Black feminist educator, poet, and activist Cheryl Clarke.
Cover Illustration by Emerald Pellot/GRL TRBL
“ALLRED EFFECTIVELY DEMONSTRATES HOW BEYONCÉ’S WORK ALIGNS WITH AND ADVANCES MANY ELEMENTS OF BLACK FEMINISM. . . . AN ASSET FOR EDUCATORS INTERESTED IN FEMINISM AND POP-CULTURE PEDAGOGY.”
"A REVELATORY AND NUANCED LOOK AT ONE OF THE WORLD'S MOST TREASURED POPULAR CULTURE ICONS."
-INDEPENDENT BOOK REVIEW
"PROVING HIMSELF A WORTHY MEMBER OF THE BEYHIVE, KEVIN ALLRED TAKES US ON A JOURNEY THROUGH BEYONCÉ’S GREATEST HITS AND EXPANSIVE CAREER—PEELING BACK THEIR MULTIPLE LAYERS TO EXPLORE GENDER, RACE, SEXUALITY, AND POWER IN TODAY'S MODERN WORLD. A FUN, ENGAGING, AND IMPORTANT READ FOR LONG-TIME BEYONCÉ FANS AND NEWCOMERS ALIKE."
-FRANCHESCA RAMSEY, AUTHOR OF WELL, THAT ESCALATED QUICKLY: MEMOIRS AND MISTAKES OF AN ACCIDENTAL ACTIVIST
"AIN’T I A DIVA? EXPLORES THE PHENOMENON OF BEYONCÉ WHILE EXPLICITLY CHAMPIONING NOT ONLY HER IMMENSE TALENT AND GRACE BUT WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM IT. IN THIS CELEBRATION OF BEYONCÉ, AND THROUGH HER, OTHER BLACK WOMEN, ALLRED IS GIVING US ROOM TO BE EXACTLY WHO WE ARE SO THAT MAYBE WE, TOO, CAN STOP THE WORLD THEN CARRY ON!”
-KEAH BROWN, AUTHOR OF THE PRETTY ONE: ON LIFE, POP CULTURE, DISABILITY, AND OTHER REASONS TO FALL IN LOVE WITH ME
“KEVIN ALLRED IS A WRITER WHO APPROACHES THE TOPIC OF BEYONCÉ’S ROLE AND IMPACT ON THE CULTURE WITH NUANCE AND SKILL. KEENLY AWARE OF HIS POSITION AND PRIVILEGE AS A WHITE CIS MALE, ALLRED CENTERS AND AMPLIFIES BLACK FEMINIST VOICES IN HIS WRITING AS HE EXPLORES THEMES OF RACE, GENDER, AND CLASS IN BEYONCÉ’S SEMINAL CAREER. APPLYING A FEMINIST READING TO HER MUSIC, ALLRED ILLUMINATES AND INTRODUCES IDEAS THAT ARE TIMELIER NOW THAN EVER BEFORE. THIS IS A MUST-READ FOR ANY FAN OF BEYONCÉ AND OF FASCINATING FEMINIST DISCOURSE.”
-ZEBA BLAY, SENIOR CULTURE WRITER, HUFFPOST