Written by

Courtesy of Nikki LaneWhy listen to Beyoncé? Nikki Lane, an interdisciplinary researcher and educator who explores connections between popular culture and race, gender, class and sexuality, answers that question and others about the Grammy Award-winning singer on April 17. That's when the public anthropologist delivers the lecture, "Beyoncé and Black Feminist Thought: A Practical Lesson in Conscious Culture Consumption," at Whitman College.

Lane earned a doctorate in anthropology with a concentration in race, gender and social justice from American University. Read Lane's lesson plan about Beyoncé's hit "Lemonade" here. In the below, Lane offers a preview of her forthcoming talk, which the Visiting Educator Fund and the Gender Studies Program sponsor.  

What are three ways that Beyoncé affects the representational landscape of black women in popular culture?  

The first thing she does is get people to ask this question.  

Beyoncé is an important figure in U.S. popular culture for a lot of reasons, but the idea that she alone can affect how black women are treated within U.S. popular culture remains to be seen. I mean, if people now look at black women in U.S. popular culture and expect all of us to be like Beyoncé, then we'd be at a loss, because none of us can compete. She's not the Queen for no reason! Girlfriend earned that mantle.  

Beyoncé is part of a line of black women music icons. So the second thing she does is give us the chance to think about black artists from Billie Holiday to Diana Ross and how those women throughout their careers grappled with ideologies about black women that were in wide circulation.  

Lastly, Beyoncé offers us an opportunity to think about the relationship between black womanhood and sexuality, class, region, and motherhood within U.S. popular culture.  

Whitman hosts an array of guest speakers and educators. Many also offer on-campus workshops or engage with students in the classroom. We ask them to give us a brief insight into their area of expertise. For more information on upcoming events at Whitman, go online to the campus calendar.