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Course Archives


Birthday card to Beyoncé from the Beyoncé Nation class at Cornell posted on Twitter on September 4, 2017


Katherine Regan and Ben Ortiz repositing the 13-page syllabus booklet for the Beyoncé Nation course in the Hip Hop Collection at Cornell Library


"I had the pleasure this morning of giving a lecture to the "Beyoncé Nation" class, a new course offered this semester via the #Cornell #Africana Studies and Research Center (@AfricanaCU), taught by the amazing Dr. Riché Richardson (@twindynasty)! We discussed #HipHop #history#culture, preserving it through the #artifacts in the @CornellHipHop

Collection, and also assessed how it has influenced Beyoncé's career. Deeeep discussion, seriously sharp students."
#Beyonce #music #popculture #academia #bey #queenbey #beyhive 

-Ben Ortiz, Assistant Curator of the Cornell Hip Hop Collection, after meeting with the Beyoncé Nation students on November 30, 2017 


 The Beyoncé course in the News:

2017     Interview.  “Pop Culture in the College Classroom.”  By Nicole Poitras.  Emerson College.  WERS  Soundcloud.  October 2017

2017 The Beyoncé Course Formation at Cornell" by Donna Pinnisi.  November 7, 2017


2017  "How Does Beyoncé ‘Run the World,’ Students Answer After Semester of Study" by Maryam Zafar.  The Cornell Daily Sun.  November 30, 2017

2018     Amina Kilpatrick.  “Beyoncé’s Father Recalls Hiding from a Ku Klux Klan Rally As a Child at Cornell Lecture.”  The Cornell Daily Sun.  September 28, 2018 

2018     Samantha Stern.  “Beyoncé’s Father and Top Music Industry Leader Mathew Knowles to Speak at Cornell Panel.”  The Cornell Daily Sun.  September 18, 2018
2018   Linda Glaser.  “Top Music Industry Expert Speaks.” Cornell Chronicle.  September 13, 2018
2018     Josie Rubio.  “14 Fun College Classes You Wish You Could Take.”  September 13, 2018
2020     L.P. Drew.  “Common Threads:  Professor, author, and textile artist Riché Richardson explores the African American experience.”  Cornell Alumni Magazine.  July/August 2020

List of 67 Topics on which students produced ten-page research papers in the Beyoncé Nation course

Three Special Issues Outlined for publication in undergraduate student journal

Studying Beyoncé in Comparative, Cross-Cultural and Interdisciplinary Perspective


Mareshah Sowah, “Beyoncé in #BlackLivesMatter”

Kada Hyde, “She Ain’t Sorry:  Southern Consciousness in Beyoncé’s Musical Productions”

Katherine Quinn, “The Influence of Ball Culture, Drag Queens, and Bounce Music on Beyoncé’s Career”

Rachelle Saint-Preux, “The Carters All Grown Up”

Miguel Brotons, “Live on Stage:  Beyoncé and Race”

Gabi Hammell, “#GrammysSoWhite:  Beyoncé & the Racial Politics of Music Awards”

Javier Agredo, “Divas in the Middle & Running the World:  Beyoncéfication in a Cross-Cultural Perspective

Ward Simcox, “Beyoncé:  Progress Through Fashion”

Kathryn Hennessy, “Only Human, Just Like You:  Religious Iconography and Its Purpose in Beyoncé’s Work”

Nina Ray, “Exploring Beyoncé’s Sonic Masculinity in the Wake of ‘Lemonade’”

Hannah Harvey, “Beyoncé and Architecture”

Courtney Carr, “The ‘Symbolic Jezebel’:  Analyzing the Super Bowl Performances of Beyoncé and Janet Jackson”


Bey Feminism

Johanna Margalotti, “Bey Feminism as Celebrity Feminism:  Reframing the Critical Discourse Surrounding Beyoncé’s Political Ethos”

Mónica C. De León, “Beyoncé and Intersectional Feminism:  From ‘Feminist in a way’ to ‘Modern-day feminist”

Breanne Richardson, “Bey Feminism”

Andrew McKendell, “The King and Queen of American Entertainment”

Nina Lueders, “Ok, Independent Woman, Now Let’s Get in Formation:  Beyoncé’s Trans(Formation) of Feminism”

Amelia Brackett, “’Bills, Bills, Bills’:  Beyoncé’s Commodification of Feminism”

Ryan Elbashir, “Democratizing Black Feminism”

Madeline Johnson, “Wait, Beyoncé’s a Feminist?!”

Lucy Flieger, “’Lemonade’:  Black Womanhood on Film”


Business and Technology

Carunya (Caro) Achar, “The Best Revenge Cannot Be Your Paper:  Unpacking Beyoncé’s Brand of Capitalist Feminism”

Marisa Knox, “Beyoncé:  Becoming the Global Brand”


Breonna Freeman, “Beyoncé:  A Black Woman in the Business Industry”

Ugonna Erinne, “Beyoncé and Twitter:  A Voice Stifled”

Brianna S. Barrett, “Beyoncé:  Revolutionary Rebel or Capitalist Creation?”

Sarah Lee, “The Beyoncé Brand:  The Role of Control”

Simran J. Khosla, “Is Beyoncé Black or is it just a Marketing Ploy!?”

Vincent Harrison, “Beyoncé in the Realm of Digital Spaces”

Allen Porterie, “The Black Female Body As a Business for Pop Divas”

Connie Napier IV, “Perfection and the Beyoncé Standard”



Julia Reeves, “The Evolution of Beyoncé:  From Carmen to Nala”

Carolyn Spencer, “I Want to Be Like Beyoncé (or Britney) When I Grow Up”

Gabrielle Lynn, “I, Beyoncé:  Becoming Tina Turner”

Apriele Minott, “Don’t End Up Like Becky & Benet:  An Analysis of Modern Day Black Love Through ‘Lemonade’ and ‘4:44’”

Susie Plotkin, “The Implications of Beyoncé’s Invocations of Various Deities in ‘Lemonade’:  Fighting the White Supremacist Patriarchy”

Alanna Schetty, “Beyoncé and the Illuminati”

Hannah Kaiser, “That Illuminati Mess”

Kassidy Fortune, “Beyoncé’s Artistic Birth and her Artistic Evolution”

Andrea H. Fortanel, “Past, Present, and Future for a Woman and Performer”

Anasya Chase-Manuel, “Does Beyoncé have multiple Personality disorder:  Why did Beyoncé need Sasha Fierce?”

Yujue Wang, Beyoncé’s Sexuality in ‘Partition’”

Kaya Coleman, “My Negro Nose and Afro:  Beyoncé’s Blackness Reclaimed

Chidera Joseph, “How Blue Ivy Inspired the Hair in ‘Lemonade’”

Shilpa Sadhasivam, “Controlling Images and Eurocentric Beauty on Beyoncé and Blue”

Lyndsey Dyer, “’I like my baby heir with baby hair and afros,’ but do you?”

Crystal Pascual, “Beyoncé and Colorism-A Rigid Standard of Black Beauty in the Entertainment Industry”

Aliza Cohen, “Hair’s Your Seat at the Table”

Allison Blankenstein, “Beyoncé and Diet Culture:  The Erasure and Demonization of Fat Bodies”

Zachary Calbo-Jackson, “Diet Lite Lemonade”

Maya Bradley, “Beyoncé and Black Motherhood”

Libby Brothers, “Black Motherhood and Marriage:  The Surveillance of Beyoncé and Michelle Obama”

Nia Khaan, “Giving the Black Struggle a Seat at the Table”

Janée Dennis, “The Truth Will Set You Free:  An Examination of Beyoncé’s Journey to a Transparent Artist for Herself and Her Daughter”

Maia Coltes -Pierce, “The Making of a Star”

Kathleen Won, “Blue Ivy:  Black Girls’ Confidence”

Dhaaruni Sreenivas, “Love and Betrayal:  The Marriage of Beyoncé and Jay-Z”

Samantha Camy, “Bee Z and the American Dream”

Sheyla Finkner, “Beyoncé, Motherhood, and Intersectional Feminism”

Shanee Moodie, “Who Defines Feminism”

Joseph Nelzy, “Beyoncé’s Rise in Feminism”

Elise Smith, “Beyoncé’s Feminist Evolution”

Mikayla Kimble, “She’s Not Your Feminist”

Evodie Ganjwa, “Michelle Obama, Beyoncé and the Divisive Power of Feminist Theory”

The Willard Straight Occupation and the Legacy of Black Students, 2017, 2018


Historian Carol Kammen, author of Part and Apart;  The Black Experience at Cornell1865-1945,discussing the book with the Willard Straight course students in 2017


Highlights from the panel and screening of Agents of Change on which the students in the Willard Straight course collaborated with Africana librarian Eric Acree on the anniversary of the Occupation in 2017.  The event was well attended and drew a packed house on a stormy night.  


Riché Richardson interview with Willard Straight course student Traciann Celestin and film co-director Abby Ginzberg post-screening.  Agents of Change.  Cornell Cinema.  May 4, 2019


Community screening of Agents of Change featuring a talkback with the documentary co-directors in downtown Ithaca at Cinemapolis on April 17, 2018, during week commemorating the Willard Straight Occupation's 50th anniversary at Cornell


Willard Straight Occupation Students in the Spring 2017 class included Amber Aspinall, Traciann Celestin, Janeil Dennis, Samantha Kreda, Jennifer Mandelblatt, Monica Moore, Joseph Nelzy, and Dominique Thorne, whose collective and individual projects produced in the pilot course set the bar high and established strong foundations.  Here are some of their reflections on the experience: 


 “I’m so excited to hear that you will be teaching the course again.  It was truly one of the best classes I have ever taken and Cornell is so lucky to have a scholar like you dedicated to this important piece of history.” 


Amber Aspinall


“Thank you for a wonderful semester, I truly enjoyed learning and growing with everyone throughout the course.” 


Janeil Dennis


“I have truly enjoyed this class and I am so grateful to have taken it while still a fairly new member of Wari.  I feel far more confident standing as a member of this house having taken this class, read the books I’ve read, and taken part in the conversations that followed.  For me, this has been an educational experience that surpassed academic learning.  This was an education that I will carry with me in my attempt to become a more productive member of Wari, the Cornell Community and society at large.  Thank you for a wonderful semester and have a  great summer!”


Dominique Thorne


“I am very excited to be enrolled in your course on the Willard Straight Takeover!”


Traciann Celestin


“My parents absolutely loved Agents of Change-they finally got to hear what I have been talking about all semester.”


Jennifer Mandeleblatt


“I learned so much about the power of movements and the impact that the Willard Straight Takeover had on this campus.  Though racism and discrimination against black students did not cease immediately, change was definitely occurring.  It is incredible to me that I am only really learning about these incredible student movements as a senior, but I hope that more people will be able to take this course over the next few years and that black student voices are recognized and respected so that this era of continued violence and discrimination can end.”


Samantha Kreda


Agents of Change co-director Frank Dawson interviewing Harry Edwards during the 50th anniversary commemoration of the Willard Straight Occupation in April of 2019

The Willard Straight Course in the News:  

2019  Riché Richardson, “What Teaching about the Straight Occupation Has Taught Me and What It Can Teach Everyone.”  Ezra:  Cornell’s Quarterly Magazine.  Spring, 2019


2019  Hunter Seitz.  "Africana Studies Professor Offers Class about Takeover."  The Cornell Daily Sun.  April 18, 2019  

2019     Vivien Fan.  “Cornell To Honor 50th Anniversary of Willard Straight Hall Takeover With Keynote Event and Commemorative Walk.”  The Cornell Daily Sun.  April 16, 2019

Archive of the Willard Straight Student Course Projects from 2017 and 2018

Course Projects in 2017

Janeil Dennis, “Community on College Campuses”

Jennifer Mandelblatt, “So You Call Yourself an Ally:  Sustaining and Improving the Legacy of Student Leadership at Cornell”

Samantha Kreda, “Collaboration between the Willard Straight Course at Cornell and the Senior Class of Ithaca High School”

Traciann Celestin, “Interview with Samari Gilbert, co-president of Black Students United, and Dr. Renee Alexander, on Being a Black Woman at Cornell in the Early 1970s and the Impact of Willard Straight on Her Views on Activism”

Monica Moore, “Black Student Movements:  Then and Now”

Amber Aspinall, “The Trillium Takeover and the Demands”

Joseph Nelzy, “An Analysis of ‘Dear White People’ and Its Comparison to the Black Community at Cornell University and College Campuses”

Dominique Thorne, Short Film on Wanawake Wa Wari House

Course Projects in 2018

Rachel Pilgrim, “Wanawake Wa Wari’s 50th Anniversary:  The Parallels of a Legacy”

Jonathan Avery, “Athletes:  Agents of Change”

Connie Napier, IV, The Cornell Black Alumni Association (CBAA)

Brandon Adams, Ujamaa Residential College

Julia Reeves, Food and the Student Experience at Cornell

Nia Khaan, “Gentrification in Ithaca”

Autumn Brown, “Media Misrepresentation: Black Campus Protests”

Imani Luckey, “Discrimination Against Black Women in Housing at Cornell”

Highlights from Class Trip to New York City, October 10-19th, 2021

IMG_5297 (1).jpg

Design Justice Workshop
in the News:

Kathy Hovis. "Students engage with Black ‘memory workers’ in NY."  Cornell Chronicle.  January 14, 2022

Kathy Hovis. "Students engage with NYC Black ‘memory workers’ in Mellon seminar."  A & S  Communications.." Cornell University.  January 3, 2022


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