Dolly Parton’s life inspires new university course

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Dolly Parton is now the subject of an academic course at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Tennessee.

The university is offering a honours history class all about the iconic country singer.

According to the course description,  Dolly’s America: From Sevierville to the World is a history honours class aimed at helping students learn “how to analyze materials [and] put them into their historical and social context,” through the lens of Parton’s life and how “a ‘hillbilly’ girl from Appalachia grew up to become an international one-word sensation.”

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At the end of the class, students will have to write a 10-page paper answering the question “What was Dolly Parton’s America?”

The idea for the Dolly’s America course came after the professor, Dr. Lynn Sacco, saw Parton speak at a graduation ceremony where she was given an honorary doctorate degree.

“Tears streamed down and she said, ‘I was voted the least likely to succeed in my high school,’” Sacco recalls to news station WBIR. “And she said, ‘I left the next day with a paper bag and took the bus to Nashville.””

When asked about the university’s response to Sacco’s proposal of the new course, Dr. Ernie Freeburg, Head of UT’s Department of History, said:

“This History department was both surprised and delighted to learn that Dr. Sacco was proposing to have students dive deep into the life and times of Dolly Parton. One message we send our students is that history is everywhere, not just in wars and the White House, and that one of the best ways to know something is to study it historically.”

He added: “In the hands of a good historian like Dr. Sacco, a course on Dolly Parton raises so many fundamental questions worth asking in any humanities course — about how place shapes values, our ideas about success, the relationship between art and celebrity.”

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Parton joked about her high school doubters when she tweeted about the new course.

The country singer’s fans chimed in with praise after she announced the course.

Parton’s official website also highlighted the course.

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