Academics pitch their dream Canadian celebrity courses
Drake, pictured performing in Toronto in an Oct. 8, 2016 file photo, has released his latest studio album 'More Life.' (Arthur Mola, Invision/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
David Friend, The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, March 8, 2017 1:35PM EST
While many celebrities are the subject of courses of higher learning, there have been few Canadian examples.
Aside from a Leonard Cohen class at McGill University, homegrown stars haven't been given the same academic treatment as the likes of Beyonce, Kanye West and Lady Gaga.
So we asked a group of scholars to dream up courses headlined by famous Canadians from the entertainment world.
Here are the celebrities they picked and their imagined course outlines:
Samantha Bee -- American politics through a Canadian lens
Why: The "Full Frontal" host's feisty political commentaries frequently go viral, proving the Toronto-born comedian's mix of jokes and jabs resonate beyond borders.
The pitch: University of Oklahoma assistant professor Lisa Funnell, who was born in Hamilton, says Bee is an avenue to a lineage of Canadian comedians who found success partly by poking fun at America. Units could include an examination of Michael Moore's comedy "Canadian Bacon," which starred the late John Candy, and the career of "Saturday Night Live" creator Lorne Michaels.
k.d. lang -- Gender, sexuality and the politics of country music
Why: The Alberta chanteuse has pushed against "dominant gender norms and prevailing sexual stereotypes" throughout her career, says Marc Lafrance, associate sociology professor at Concordia University.
The pitch: Lafrance suggests a focus on how the singer bucked country music conventions by appropriating masculine iconography. Other sections could examine how lang was able to cultivate her persona through the changing social conditions of the times.
Drake -- Race and identity politics through social media
Why: Toronto's rapper extraordinaire is a social media pro, to say the least. His Instagram posts are a portal into his life, but also a window into lifestyle creation.
The pitch: Western University student Amara Pope, who wrote about Drake for her master's thesis, suggests Drake as a vehicle for a study of race and social status. Drake plays the role of "high-class rapper and low-class citizen," she says, which makes him a timely example of how the Internet can help shape identity. "It can go beyond him as a case study into examining different ways of communicating on social media," Pope says.
Celine Dion -- Quebecois diva on a global scale
Why: No other French-Canadian celebrity can rival Dion's influence as an ambassador for both Quebec and Canada.
The pitch: A course rich in social context would focus on Dion's rise to fame as a musical export, suggests University of Calgary arts professor Dawn Johnston. Starting with a study of Montreal living, the course could expand to chart Dion's beginnings in international song contests. "You could flash back to when she was on Eurovision," Johnston says, pointing to when she represented Switzerland in 1988. "(And then) explore her role as a French Canadian in a world culture."