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University of South Carolina professor goes goo-goo for Gaga in new class

courtesy of MCT

Lady Gaga will be on the University of South Carolina’s campus in spring 2011, but she won’t be performing.

Professor Mathieu Deflem will teach a sociology course titled “Lady Gaga and the Sociology of the Fame.”

The course will be broken into segments, including Lady Gaga’s music and videos, her business and marketing, and gay culture and sexuality.

Students might sign up for the class for an easy A, but Deflem said the workload will make it a demanding course.

Freshmen are advised not to take the class, and there are prerequisites to the class, such as sociology 101 or a sociology 300-level course, according to the course’s website. Media attention toward the class, including The New York Times, USA Today and The Washington Post, came as a surprise to Deflem.

“I was thinking it would attract some attention because the course relates to a currently very popular pop artist, but I did not anticipate that the course would become part and parcel of its very subject matter, namely the culture of fame and celebrity,” Deflem said in an e-mail to The Lantern. “The course has received media attention from all corners of the world.”

Deflem has received positive feedback from students, alumni and others who have taken interest in the course.

“I received about an estimated 350 e-mails, of which only three were not positive. I recall somebody charging me with the ridiculous notion that I would be promoting a member of ‘the illuminati,'” Deflem said. “All other comments were positive and understanding of the scholarly nature of my work and, at once, the manner in which I connect sociology with a theme that students can relate to.”

OSU sociology professor Brenda Chaney said it is common for sociology professors to focus on popular culture.

“In my sociology 101 class, I added a section on fads and fashions and popular culture,” Chaney said. “We can’t understand our society without understanding popular culture.”

OSU sociology lecturer Rachael Gossett said the Lady Gaga class will be something students can relate to.

“I think that the more energy professors devote on trying to engage students in their discipline, the better, even if the method is non-traditional,” Gossett said.

She said students haven’t asked for similar courses on specific individuals, to her knowledge, and that the OSU Sociology Department usually offers broader pop culture courses.

OSU alumnus and sociology major Robert McMillen said the class will be beneficial for students because they will be able to connect with the course material.

“In terms of educational value, one of the main barriers for any teacher and student relationship is delivering the content through a medium which resonates with both groups,” McMillen said.

Deflem has been to 28 Lady Gaga concerts and an appearance on NBC’s “Today Show.” He has met her five times, at meet-and-greets, after concerts and at an airport.

Deflem said he is unsure whether Lady Gaga knows about the class. The musician’s representatives did not return requests for comment. 

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