New York University Launches New Course on Lana Del Rey

Wednesday September 21, 2022

Lana Del Rey in her music video for "Arcadia."
Lana Del Rey in her music video for "Arcadia."  (Source:YouTube still)

Students at New York University might want to put on their party dresses if they're taking the school's Clive Davis Institute's new course on Lana Del Rey.


Variety reported that a new two-credit course on the iconic "Blue Banisters" singer is being offered for the fall. Taught by journalist and author Kathy Iandoli, the class is called "Topics in Recorded Music: Lana Del Rey" and runs from Oct. 20 through Dec. 8.


Here's the course description:


Over the course of eight critically-acclaimed albums, the six-time Grammy nominated artist has introduced a sad core, melancholic, and baroque version of dream pop that in turn helped shift and reinvent the sound (and mood) of mainstream music beyond the 2010s. Through her arresting visuals and her thematic attention to mental health and tales of toxic, damaged love, Del Rey provided a new platform for artists of all genders to create "anti-pop" works of substance that could live in a mainstream once categorized as bubblegum.















A rep for NYU told the outlet the course will look at Del Rey's contributions to pop music in the 21st Century, her relationship to feminism, her musical influence as well as the musicians she's influenced herself. Also discussed will be the pop star's connection to social justice movements like Black Lives Matter, #TimesUp and #MeToo.


"In so many ways, I feel like Lana Del Rey is both a blueprint and a cautionary tale, a complicated pop star who resonates so much with her fans, not because of how she makes them feel about her, but rather how she makes them feel about themselves," Iandoli told Variety. "She has changed the parameters of baroque pop and now more specifically "sad girl pop" through her music, by expanding the subject matter which at times is controversial and challenging. There are so many pieces in this mosaic that we have now come to know as Lana Del Rey, and this course examines every dimension of it."



Del Rey isn't the first pop star course the Davis Institute has launched as it previously offered a course on Taylor Swift.


"Lana Del Rey refracts so many changes in contemporary culture, especially as the role of contemporary women in pop music keeps shifting," said Davis Institute chair, veteran music writer and musician Jason King. "Studying Lana Del Rey means thinking more critically [about] the growing popularity of so-called anti-pop. It means finding ways to consider the increased interest in mental health and issues of psychological damage, and to evaluate changes in [the way] we think about identity, especially in terms of race, gender, nation and class. Lana is especially relevant, and controversial, when it comes to changing ideas about intersectional feminism over the past decade."















"The point of our artist-themed classes at the Clive Davis Institute is to encourage students to think more deeply and critically about the icons they admire and to develop a historical and contextual understanding of those artists," King told Variety. "Students are expected to approach the study of Lana Del Rey with the same critical lens with which they approach the study of Led Zeppelin or John Coltrane or Bob Marley or Stevie Wonder or Joni Mitchell in other Writing/History/Emergent Media Studies courses we offer. There is a growing body of academic research and scholarly discourse on Lana Del Rey as well that seeks to assess her cultural meaning and impact, and students read and think through some of the work in class."


Del Rey broke through with her 2012 album "Born To Die," spawning popular singles "Video Games," "Blue Jeans" and "Summertime Sadness." In 2019, she released her most critically acclaimed album "Norman Fucking Rockwell!" In total, she's made nine studio albums, including two LPs in 2021, "Blue Banisters" and "Chemtrails over the Country Club."