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Lecture on Harry Styles Examines Prejudice Against Genderfluid Pop Icon

Fordham alumnus Louie Dean Valencia made a splash on Twitter for announcing that he’ll be teaching a university class on Harry Styles—the first of its kind. On Oct. 12, the Fordham grad—dubbed “The Harry Styles professor”—returned to campus to present a lecture titled “Harry Styles vs. Intolerance: How to Make Authentic, Inclusive, Avant-Garde, and Joyful Spaces.”

Valencia, an associate professor of digital history at Texas State University, earned his doctorate in history from Fordham’s Graduate School of Art and Sciences in 2016. An expert on fascism and its effects on popular culture in Franco’s Spain, Valencia said he came to the subject matter of Harry Styles during the pandemic, when his ability to do research in Europe was curtailed.

He said that after years of studying fascism, he wanted to shift the focus to something more enjoyable at a time of isolation. Styles, a superstar known in part for a genderfluid wardrobe that includes boas and pearls, got his start in the boy band One Direction. After striking out on his own, he has become one of the biggest acts in the world. He is currently starring in two films, and this past summer he sold out Madison Square Garden for a record-breaking 15 consecutive shows dubbed “Love on Tour.” Valencia said the tour embodied the title of Styles’ latest album, Harry’s House, by creating a welcoming space that often spilled over onto social media. Several students attending the lecture saw the MSG show, as did Valencia, who has also traveled to Europe to see the performer as part of his research.

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