Taylor Swift, the 33-year-old megastar who has become one of the highest-earning and most-decorated artists of all time, will be the subject of a world-first international academic symposium in Australia. The event, dubbed as the ‘Swiftposium’, will explore Swift’s influence on everything from the music industry to culture and the economy. Organisers of the three-day event hope it will draw researchers from across the Asia-Pacific region.
The Swiftposium will be held in February 2024 at the University of Melbourne, as well as online. It will coincide with Swift’s record-breaking Eras Tour, which will bring her to Australia for the first time since 2018. Swift’s tour has been a huge success, crashing ticketing sites, generating a new ‘Swiftonomics’ trend, and prompting places like Victoria to rush through scalping law reform.
Swift’s popularity and its profound implications
The idea for the symposium started with a half-serious tweet earlier this year by Dr Jennifer Beckett, a lecturer in media and communications at the University of Melbourne. She soon received enthusiastic responses from scholars from seven universities across Australia and New Zealand, who agreed to collaborate on organising the event.
“Taylor Swift really does have a very concrete impact globally, across things that affect all of us,” Dr Beckett told the BBC. “World leaders are begging for her to bring the Eras Tour to their country because of the economic benefits that it brings.”
The symposium will invite academic papers and presentations on a range of topics related to Swift’s phenomenon, such as:
- The role of women in industry
- Entertainment law and music ownership
- Gender, identity, race, and intersectionality
- Fandom and fan culture
- Popular culture and literature
- Marketing and branding
- Streaming royalties and digital platforms
“Critical engagement with the Taylor Swift phenomenon is encouraged, and diverse voices and opinions are welcome,” the event’s website states.
A Blank Space for Swift herself
While Swift has been the subject of university courses in the US, this is the first time a global symposium is being held to discuss her impact. Organisers hope that the event will attract not only academics, but also fans and media professionals who are interested in Swift’s work and life.
They have also saved a Blank Space in the line-up for the superstar herself, if she wants to drop in.
“If Taylor Swift wants to come… I think all of us would have to spend some time picking our jaws up from the ground, but that invitation is definitely there,” Dr Beckett said. “TayTay if you want to come, we’d love to have you.”
The speakers for the Swiftposium will be finalised over the coming months, and plans for a ticketed event for fans to take part are in the works. The symposium will be held from February 11 to 13, 2024.