Madonna Studies

Madonna Studies is the study of the work of American pop musician Madonna using an interdisciplinary approach incorporating cultural studies and media studies. A notable compendium of essays titled The Madonna Connection was published in 1992. Controversy over this field of study stemmed from discussions over the intellectual worth of pursuing academic inquiry into a pop musician, with some arguing the field was nothing more than pop cultural commentary.


Madonna first came to prominence in the mid 1980s, and the discipline did not take long to start up. Robert Miklitsch dates the start of Madonna studies to 1987 and Rocking Around The Clock: Music Television, Postmodernism & Consumer Culture by E. Ann Kaplan.

By the early 1990s it was the topic of wider media interest, and commentators were already attacking the growing field. In 1992, Vanity Fair reported that "academics are doing a brisk trade in Madonna-ology". A collection of scholarly articles, The Madonna Connection: Representational Politics, Subcultural Identities, and Cultural Theory edited by Cathy Schwichtenberg, was published in late 1992. The justification the creation of studies and bibliography focused on Madonna and validity that they have is a subject of debate among scholars and academics. These studies analyzed several topics, but mostly Madonna Studies involved in the study of gender, sexuality, and the mass media. One of her advocates is Annalee Newitz saying that to "the university communities Madonna occupies a definite place in the curriculum of post-Western cultures in universities worldwide". Professor and media scholar John Fiske explained that all cultural studies focus primarily on finding a hidden meaning within a social aspect —for example, a Madonna video— so it takes a more comprehensive analysis to provide an appropriate context —in this case, on the work of singer—. Similarly, the American psychologist Susan Fiske, noted that "cultural studies about Madonna only analyze texts and how your audience uses the material to relate to the social construction that is Madonna. French academic Georges Claude Guilbert, who has written three books about Madonna, said in one of them "is a bit excessive admiration imply that scholars have for Madonna is the result of a common hostility to censorship". Given her constant social provocations, often with political overtones, the novelist Andrew O'Hagan said that "Madonna is like a heroic opponent of cultural and political authoritarianism of the American "establishment".Since her debut, are has written several thesis, essays and scientific trials encuadrable in various branches of the social sciences. It was probably in the 1990s when this phenomenon was most critical and began to divide opinions at the used widely the term "Madonna Studies". According to author Robert Miklitsch of the State University of New York Press, this term is a "political-cultural" phenomenon.

In 1991, the firm Knight Ridder published an article on the subject titled Madonna even controversial for scholars, citing comments from several teachers and other personalities. Meanwhile, Barbara Stewart from Orlando Sentinel, said there was a "growing number of "Madonna Studies" in the United States, [where authors] wrote their works for academic journals and conventions". She added that overseas for many "was a laugh hear of Madonna Studies". She continued that "neither this study theme sit well with some students of higher education". Beyond all this, organizations like the set of liberal arts colleges 7 sisters teach courses that examine the influence of Madonna in culture. In this regard, the French scholar Georges Claude Guilbert wrote in the book Madonna as Postmodern Myth (2002), Princeton, Harvard, UCLA, the University of Colorado and Rutgers were the first to propose courses "about" Madonna. He added that even at the University of Amsterdam was created the elective academic discipline, Madonna: The Music and the Phenomenon, within the Department of Musicology.


There is debate about whether Madonna should have a place in curriculums alongside more established and canonical subjects. Roger Kimball described it as "a waste of time and money", while others have defended the importance of studying modern culture. Others like Camille Paglia take a middle ground, saying "We do not need a whole course in Madonna, but within a big course like mine, it is absolutely legitimate to show how images of the present inherit the meanings of the past." It has also been criticised for adding nothing to students' employment prospects.