Queen Mary University of London? There’s already one of these at a university in Belgium: it’s called Literature: (Taylor’s Version), and starts this autumn. In February, academics will gather in Australia for a high-level “Swiftposium”.
In the US, meanwhile, people fret over the pop star’s political power. Last week, with a single Instagram post, she helped register 35,000 new voters in a day. Others concern themselves with Swiftonomics: where Taylor steps, businesses grow and bloom.
Three concert nights in Chicago were enough to revive its tourism industry, according to the governor of Illinois. News recently got out that Swift is dating NFL player Travis Kelce. Sales of his jersey are up 400%. “If Swift were an economy,” the president of a major online research company has said, “she’d be bigger than 50 countries… her loyalty numbers mimic those of subjects to a royal crown.”
Great conquerors occupy the mind. A viral TikTok meme claims all men think about the Roman empire at least once a day. As the map turns Swift, a psychiatrist took to the New York Times to remark on how “Taylor-based” her practice has become. Patients lean on her to help them through life’s struggles, and emotionally spiral when Swift concerts draw near. “How am I going to go back to regular life once it’s all over?” they ask.
Swift, like Bob Dylan, to whom she is often compared, is probably a genius. But is she really 50 countries more of a genius than all those almost-Taylors, artists whose economies still amount to the size of a room in their parents’ basements?
For Swift stands a Gulliver among Lilliputians: the prize for being one scintilla less talented or lucky is, generally, a life scraping minimum wage. And there’s another world too, perhaps a mere breath from this one, where a 33-year-old Swift still struggles in country music clubs and another artist is reigning king or queen.