Paula Harper Featured on NPR for Taylor Swift's New Album Launch

Paula Harper headshot


Assistant Professor Paula Harper was featured on NPR’s All Things Considered to discuss the launch of Taylor Swift’s latest album, The Tortured Poets Department. In the episode, Harper – who is currently co-editing a book on Taylor Swift and her fans – unpacks Swift's cultural impact, shares her favorite song off The Tortured Poets Department, and more. 

Read an excerpt of her conversation with hosts Mary Louise Kelly and Chantal Dulk-Jacobs below, and listen to the full episode here.


KELLY: So I want to just dive right in on the idea of fans. Can you give an example? Is there a story you would tell that would make clear just how big, how powerful Taylor Swift's fan base is?

HARPER: The Swifties are a big and powerful group. They're a force. I think my my favorite go-to example is that, at one of Taylor Swift's Eras tour concerts, they literally caused a seismic event due to the combined force of their rhythmic jumping and dancing to Taylor Swift's music - so a kind of literal natural event that is happening due to the force and the scale and the scope of Swift's fans.

KELLY: Taylor Swift can interact with her fans in a way that's quite different from what the Beatles were able to do, or what - even before that, if - people who were screaming themselves hoarse over Elvis Presley. Talk to me about the way that she interacts with fans that helps to cultivate such passion.

HARPER: Yeah, well, something that I tend to say about Taylor Swift is that Taylor Swift did come up right alongside the rise of social media as we know it. So she has been interacting with her fans on social media platforms well prior to the days of TikTok. Those of us who were around in the 2010s know that Taylor Swift was cultivating a very avid fan base on Tumblr way, way back when.

Check out the rest of the episode here.