Calling all 'tortured poets': Colorado State University offers new Taylor Swift course

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“Verano Cruel"?

Not for Taylor Swift fans.

It won’t be a “Cruel Summer” for them.

At least not for those taking “Spanish for Swiftie Purposes (Taylor’s Version),” an online course at Colorado State University tailored around the megastar’s success.

The class, “LSPA 380A5,” as it’s listed in the course catalog, is an introductory class in Spanish linguistics, designed and taught by self-professed “Swiftie” Alyssia Miller De Rutte, an associate professor at CSU.

“In language education now, we’re at a turning point, and we need to be offering courses that students are interested in that are relevant to the time we’re living in,” Miller De Rutte said Friday. “… It’s a great time to do it. (Swift) has traveled to several Spanish-speaking countries with her 'Eras Tour,' and she’s going to Spain this summer.

“The impact she’s had on those countries is enormous, the cultural phenomena that is Taylor Swift. It’s the perfect time to think about that in Spanish.”

Miller De Rutte teaches graduate-level Spanish courses in applied linguistics and specializes in medical Spanish. Students in this course, she said, will study corpus linguistics and perform thematic analysis, "which is where we will systematically track her word choice, the structure of her songs throughout time to see how it evolves, and how that all works in Spanish."

The course will touch on cultural and political differences between Spanish-speaking countries and the United States and the relevance of the messages in Swift’s lyrics to her audiences in those countries.

She hasn’t yet completed the course syllabus.

“Like any good Swiftie, I was waiting for the album that came out today to see how that can play a role,” Miller De Rutte said, noting the release of "The Tortured Poets Departments" on April 19. “I have some objectives, and I want to see how I can incorporate this new album and its 31 songs.”

Simple word-for-word translations from one language to another generally don’t work well in music, Miller De Rutte said. Sentence structures are different, as are idiomatic expressions. So, one of the challenges students will face, she said, is to choose words that fit both the message and melody of Swift’s songs.

“I don’t know if we’ll do a full song or a chorus or two of a couple songs,” she said. “But we’ll be kind of walking through that and see what we get. How students do that individually and see what choices people made and work through those."

Miller De Rutte said she also wants to incorporate "the different varieties of Spanish."

"In one dialect, you’re going to say it one way, and in another, you’re going to say it in another way, especially idiomatic expressions and colloquialisms," she said. "Who is your audience? And to think about your choices that you’re making then, too.”

Registration for the course has been open for about a month, she said. It’s an eight-week class, worth three college credits, that is open to anyone. Those not already enrolled at CSU will have to apply through the university's non-degree student admissions process. The course will be taught online asynchronously, beginning June 10. Students will be able to proceed at their own pace, for the most part, but there will be live online discussions at various points, Miller De Rutte said.

Right now, there’s just one section planned, for a maximum of 20 students. But if there’s enough demand, an additional section could be offered.

The idea for the course, Miller De Rutte said, came out of discussion over dinner with some other faculty members. Talking about Swift-themed courses being offered at other universities across the country, “we were joking that we should do a Taylor Swift course in our department,” she said. “And I was like, ‘No, we actually should.’ It just kind of grew from there.”

Miller De Rutte, who said she is a “little bit younger than Taylor,” has seen the megastar in concert twice. The first time was on her “Fearless Tour” in 2009 at Penn State, where Miller De Rutte was an undergraduate student. The second was last summer at one of the Denver shows of “The Eras Tour.”

“I’m a big fan,” she said.

Reporter Kelly Lyell covers education, breaking news, some sports and other topics of interest for the Coloradoan. Contact him at, and

This article originally appeared on Fort Collins Coloradoan: Colorado State University in new 'era' with Taylor Swift Spanish class