University offers Lady Gaga sociology course

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Lady Gaga
Image caption,
Prof Deflem says he has seen Lady Gaga in concert 30 times

The University of South Carolina has developed a sociology course dedicated to the life, work and rise to fame of pop star Lady Gaga.

Lady Gaga and the Sociology of the Fame is to be taught by Professor Mathieu Deflem, a fan of the singer.

Course documents said students would learn to "engage in sound and substantiated scholarly thinking" on issues related to her fame.

The course, which has its own blog, is due to start in spring 2011.

The Belgian born sociologist, whose research interests also include counter-terrorism, international policing, crime control and internet technology, says he has seen Lady Gaga in concert 30 times.

'Sociological dimensions'

"We're going to look at Lady Gaga as a social event," Prof Deflem told the USC student newspaper, the Daily Gamecock.

"So it's not the person, and it's not the music. It's more this thing out there in society that has 10 million followers on Facebook and six million on Twitter. I mean, that's a social phenomenon."

The course description says it aims to "unravel some of the sociologically relevant dimensions of the fame of Lady Gaga with respect to her music, videos, fashion, and other artistic endeavours".

It will look at business and marketing strategies, the role of old and new media, fans and live concerts, gay culture, religious and political themes, sex and sexuality, and the cities of New York and Hollywood, it says.

Prof Deflem said he initially planned to call the course the Sociology of Fame or the Sociology of Celebrity, and to use Lady Gaga as an example.

"Then I thought, 'Oh, what the hell? Let's make the whole freaking course about Lady Gaga and her rise to fame.'

Also a fan of Frank Zappa, Prince, Led Zeppelin, Alice Cooper, Status Quo and Ritchie Blackmore, Prof Deflem says his interest in Lady Gaga began when he first saw her perform on television on 9 January 2009.

"I hope that [prospective students] are at least somewhat fans of Gaga," he told the student newspaper.

"They don't have to be hardcore fans. The better fan will not necessarily be the better student. But you have to have some interest in the topic. So if you really don't like her, you probably shouldn't take the course."

Speaking to the BBC, he said the media reaction to the launch of the course has been "simply staggering", and the academic endeavour has become caught up in the very phenomenon it is exploring.

"The story has gone viral... My work on terrorism got a lot of attention as well, but that is dwarfed by the Gaga course!", he said.

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