An academic conference: Swiftposium 2024

12 Feb, 2024
An academic conference: Swiftposium 2024
Senior Lecturer Dr Rebecca Trelease (Te Āti Haunui a Pāpārangi)

The programme for the Swiftposium 2024, taking place in Melbourne from Sunday 11 February - Tuesday 13 February, has been released and shows the breadth of scholarship surrounding Taylor Swift and her influence on a number of spheres, from the music industry to teaching methodology to LGBTQIA+ culture and more.

Senior Lecturer Dr Rebecca Trelease (Te Āti Haunui a Pāpārangi) will deliver her paper Meet me at midnight / Meet me behind the mall // Meeting students where they are: The Taylor Swift Teaching Pedagogy during the Swiftposium.

Lecturer Angela Asuncion will also present, delving into the promotional marketing strategies Swift employed in the release of Red (Taylor’s Version).

AUT is the only New Zealand university involved in the Swiftposium, collaborating with Australian universities The University of Melbourne, Curtin University, RMIT, the University of Sydney and Monash University.

Dr Trelease explores the class and gender lens often used to diminish Taylor Swift’s achievements and to belittle her fans. “Female pop stars and their fans are often looked down on, and sometimes even dismissed as hysterical. I know all too well how popular culture can be dismissed as ‘low brow’, but in fact Taylor Swift’s music provides an excellent platform for developing skills in literary criticism, contextualisation and critical thinking. Last I checked there were no rule books saying academia can’t be fun.”

She goes on to say Taylor Swift and her huge global influence is a useful entry point for both researchers and students to understand how meaning is made and communicated with audiences.

“I often use Taylor Swift as a teaching tool – even non-Swifties get to flex their critical thinking muscles investigating her influence. Swift is a way to meet my students where they are, engaging their skills while thinking about a familiar topic.”

Angela says Swift’s use of easter eggs and parasocial relationships in promoting her re-released album Red (Taylor’s Version) was a masterclass in promotional marketing. “She has paved the way for artists to use social media for releases by creating new approaches to promotional marketing strategies, tapping into her fandom’s prominently participatory culture which facilitated a large amount of user-generated content.”

The Swiftposium is not open to the public, but abstracts presented at the conference will be published following the event.

There are two ticketed public events. The Swiftposium presents Taylor Swift, Feminism and the Music Industry at Fed Square on Sunday 11 February. This special event is moderated by Georgie Tunny, The Project Australia presenter and host of the new Taylor Swift Podcast, Ready For It and features a panel of experts including: Kate Neal (award winning composer, and lecturer at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music), Kate Pattison (PhD student, RMIT) and Eilish Gilligan (musician, journalist and host of the Stranger Than Fiction podcast).

Renowned journalist and pop culture expert Brittany Spanos will discuss the cultural and artistic legacy of Taylor Swift at The Wheeler Centre on Tuesday 13 February.

Useful links