Twerking 101: Miley Cyrus is the Subject of College Sociology Course

By Scott T. Sterling

Given the intense scrutiny of all things related to Miley Cyrus over the past couple of years, this was inevitable: the controversial pop star is now the subject of a college course at New York’s Skidmore University.

This summer, students can sign up for “The Sociology of Miley Cyrus: Race, Class, Gender, and Media,” as taught by Professor Carolyn Chernoff. The class will dig into such concepts as “what happens to Disney stars as they age,” “gender stratification and the hyper commodification of childhood” and of course, “bisexuality, queerness and the female body.”

“I was teaching a course called ‘Youth Culture In and Out of School,’ and the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards became the twerk heard ’round the world,” professor Chernoff told the Daily Freeman about the genesis of the Cyrus course. “I showed that video to my class, and the students had so much to say. Miley is a lens into cultural conflict.”

This past January, Chernoff delivered a Cyrus-based lecture at Skidmore’s Women’s Center, which inspired her to spin those thoughts into a course for summertime studies.

“Miley is sometimes seen as a wild, terrible she-beast,” Chernoff added. “After the VMA performance, this young woman was seen as the end of all times.”

Not unexpectedly, Skidmore students are embracing the idea with open arms and open minds.

“You can study a lot of things based on Miley,” said Skidmore junior Layla Lakos, who’s majoring in sociology/philosophy. “She represents how transient wealth and fame can be, and shows how possible it is to change your image.”

Chernoff makes a point to let students know that the course will focus strictly on sociology matters, and won’t deviate into more prurient interests: “Learn to twerk on your own time.”





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