#LemonadeSyllabus gives Beyoncé the academic treatment

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Beyonce underwater in LEMONADE

Screengrab via Beyonce/HBO

Class is in session.

Beyoncé’s dense, complex visual album Lemonade practically requires an academic reading to unpack the undercurrents of black womanhood, racism, sexism, monogamy, and more. Luckily, the Internet’s academics are coming together to provide just that.

Candice Benbow, a writer and doctoral student in religion and society at Princeton Theological Seminary, has compiled the #LemonadeSyllabus for Diaspora Hypertext, after issuing a call, via the hashtag, for black women to share “the works of art, history, and literature that came to mind or informed their reading of the visual album.” 




On Friday, Benbow released a copy of all the compiled texts, ranging from fiction works by Toni Morrison and Alice Walker, poetry by Maya Angelou and Nikki Giovanni, and music from artists like India.Arie and Nina Simone. The downloadable document also includes room for readers to keep their own notes on the sources.

Benbow isn’t the only one to call for an academic dive into Lemonade. Barnes & Noble published a Lemonade reading list, which includes Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth by Warsan Shire, the poet Beyoncé quotes throughout Lemonade, and a history of the Illuminati. The Maryland Institute College of Art also provides a guide to all the cultural references made in Lemonade, including Pipiloti Rist’s Ever Is Over All, a 1997 work of video art that inspired the visual segment to “Hold Up.”


Obviously, there are many ways to read into Lemonade, but we’d love it if a professor could tell us how Beyonce being a clone fits into all of this.

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