BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Are you ready for it? The world’s first academic conference on the phenomenon that is Taylor Swift will take place Nov. 3 and 4 at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater near the Indiana University Bloomington campus, with adjacent events on campus Nov. 2 and 5.
Taylor Swift: The Conference Era will gather Swifties and scholars to speak on pertinent topics through the lens of the star who has sold out stadiums worldwide during her double-decade-spanning career and ongoing Eras Tour.
A brainchild of the IU Arts & Humanities Council, the conference includes speakers who will reflect upon the icon’s cultural relevance and her influence on pop culture, the economy, gender, fandom, politics, music theory, history and more. More than 1,000 attendees have registered for the two-day conference so far.
Festivities will kick off with Swift-themed events at IU Bloomington’s First Thursdays festival, from 4 to 7 p.m. Nov. 2 at the Arts Plaza on campus, followed by a 9 p.m. dance party at The Back Door, where attendees can “shake it off.”
Conference panels take place from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Nov. 3 and 4, at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater and will include a screening of the Swift-directed “All Too Well” beginning at 7:30 p.m. Friday. The weekend concludes Nov. 5 with a Taylor Swift Artist Market from noon to 4 p.m. at the Cook Center for Public Arts and Humanities, where vendors will sell Swift-related goods.
Events at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater are free but ticketed, with a limit of four tickets per person. It is recommended that attendees be age 12 or older. While discussion of the glimmering “mirrorball” that is Swift will take place, there will be “no flashing lights or troubling content,” according to the venue.
Ticket holders are not required to attend all panels. Saturday is currently sold out, which may be “champagne problems” for those who wished to attend that day, but tickets for Friday are still available in limited quantity. Media may attend the conference and should contact Almanza at email@example.com for press passes.
A call for papers issued by the Arts & Humanities Council in May garnered entries from across the United States and beyond. IU faculty members, graduate students and alumni are among the 30 selected speakers, with panel topics including “Taylor as an Anti-Hero,” “Tour Economy and Crowd Culture” and “Feminism and Capitalism.” Several international scholars will attend, including Amelia Morris, culture and media theorist from the University of Exeter in England.
Brenda Weber, Provost Professor and Jean C. Robinson Scholar in Gender Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences at IU Bloomington and director of the College Arts and Humanities Institute, will deliver a keynote presentation on gender in relation to the documentary “Miss Americana.” Other keynote speakers include associate professor of dance Mary Fogarty at York University in Toronto, music critic Gina Arnold and Leah Donnella, editor of NPR’s “Code Switch” podcast.
Many other scholars from IU and universities across the country are scheduled to present. The full conference schedule will be released on the Arts & Humanities Council website in late October, so step right out and make plans now to attend.