‘Honey, life is just a classroom’: What you missed at the 2024 Swiftposium


In recent weeks, Melburnians have witnessed firsthand the impact Taylor Swift and her tour is capable of producing on cities, economies, and culture. As Taylor Swift fans return to life as per usual post-Eras tour, glitter is not the only thing on the floor after the party: estimated to have generated anywhere between $175-$300 million for the Australian economy, Swift’s tour was one of the many topics discussed at the recent ‘Swiftposium’ held at the University of Melbourne.

Held between Sunday 11 February and Tuesday 13 February, this academic conference touched on how Swift’s music involves and impacts business, mental health, media and more. Whilst this was an event catering to academics rather than fans, representatives from the UniMelb Swifties’ Society were invited to attend and get involved in the adjunct fan events.

Alex Gwynn, events officer at the UniMelb Swifties’ Society, discussed the friendship bracelet-making session the Club led as part of the ‘Fanposium’ schedule and during lunch breaks.

“The most surprising thing was how the academics enjoyed our friendship bracelet table!” Gwynn says. “Some said every academic conference should have a stress-relief craft table.”

The Swifties’ Society’s table made national and international news in publications such as The Guardian, USA Today, and the BBC.

Other fan events included a public panel with Kate Neal, Kate Pattison, and Eilish Gilligan as guest speakers, and a screening of Swift’s 2020 documentary. The Fanposium was organised in response to overwhelming interest in the academic conference from fans.

“People thought it was a fan convention but it was a formal academic symposium.” Gywnn says. “There was a lot of security and procedures in place for confidentiality and privacy in response to the viral media.”

Keynote speaker Brittany Spanos is a senior writer at Rolling Stone magazine and teaches a class on Taylor Swift at New York University.

“We met her, she was incredible,” Gwynn says.

The content of the conference itself covered a vast range of topics, with representatives from the Swifties’ Society citing friendship and femininity, gender, fandoms, and conspiracies as some of their favourites. Swift's impact as it pertains to these topics extends beyond musical fandoms and into sports, reflecting how women have reclaimed space in spectatorship in light of Swift’s recent attendance at NFL.

Mental health was also a major topic of discussion. The distress amongst fans during ticket sales was discussed, as well as the way Swift’s writing on mental health issues may inspire fans to seek help with any of their own struggles.

Poetics and literature were another common theme, with speakers discussing the breadth of literary analysis Swift’s discography stimulates. Narelle Roberts spoke on how Swift’s upcoming album The Tortured Poets Department may inspire more Swifties to engage with literature, given that the album’s promotion leans heavily into the themes of poetics and authorship.

Medicine was also a topic of discussion. Monash Victorian Heart Institute presented a cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) demonstration and taught audiences that over 50 of Swift’s songs are capable of helping them maintain 100-120 compressions per minute when performing CPR.

The Swiftposium also engaged in some criticism of the singer-songwriter. These critiques were raised in relation to issues of whiteness and colonialism, among others.

“The conference was such an incredible experience as we were able to view aspects of Taylor's career, success, craft and identity in academic ways we had not previously considered,” Gwynn says.

Announced in September 2023, the Swiftposium garnered more than 400 submissions from 78 academic institutions, with topics drawn from 60 academic disciplines. 130 of those were accepted.

The Swiftposium was coordinated by academics from six universities across Australia and New Zealand and was a long time coming for scholars whose work discusses the social, cultural, and economic impact Swift generates.

This article was initially published on 1 March via Instagram.

Cover photo licensed under Creative Commons. Credit to Eva Rinaldi.

Farrago's magazine cover - Edition One 2024


It’s 2012 and you have just opened Tumblr. A photo pops up of MGMT in skinny jeans, teashade sunglasses and mismatching blazers that are reminiscent of carpets and ‘60s curtains. Alexa Chung and Alex Turner have just broken up. His love letter has been leaked and Tumblr is raving about it—”my mouth hasn’t shut up about you since you kissed it.” Poetry at its peak: romance is alive.

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