College courses on celebrities grow in popularity

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(NewsNation) — Advertisers know that celebrities sell, but it might surprise some people to learn that college professors do, too.

A growing number of universities are turning to the cult of personality to teach an ever more discerning class of college “consumers.” Beyoncé, Taylor Swift and the Beatles have all been the subjects of courses, and now, Harry Styles is joining the ranks.

Styles will be the subject of a course at Texas State University this fall. The professor who put the class together, Louie Dean Valencia, said the singer will help with history.

“Really, students are going to be looking at the last 12 years of history, since basically Harry Styles rose to fame,” Valencia said. “And for a lot of our students, who might be 18 years old, 12 years is a long time.”

Call it Celebrity 101. It was alive and well with the Beatles at Indiana University in the early 1980s, and today’s celebrities such as the Kardashians provide plenty of lessons.

At the University of Nebraska, they’re the lead subjects of an advertising and public relations course.

“(It’s) understanding influence, digital influence … and when we look at the Kardashians, they’ve been able to kind of master influence on media at every step of the way,” said Kelli Britten, the course professor. “They had the blogs, they had the paid apps, then they jumped to social media, then, you know, they’re jumping into mainstream media with a TV show.”

America’s TV family has the students reading from 13 different textbooks and 25 peer-reviewed articles. And not everyone is in class because they’re enamored.

“I had one this semester that was, like, ‘Well, my girlfriend likes the Kardashians, so I thought I’d take the class,'” Britten said. “But they seem to be overwhelmingly positive in this space of, ‘I’ve learned so much because it is through this pop culture space that I know.'”

Learning, whether it be from Styles or Kim Kardashian and the gang, can inspire an understanding of arts and history that can pay benefits down the line.

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