Dolly Parton course launched by Open University

5 January 2024, 13:08

Dolly Parton interview: Making 'Let It Be' with Paul McCartney and 'Wrecking Ball' with Miley Cyrus

By Mayer Nissim

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University degrees on popular music have been around for quite some time, and in recent years we've even seen courses based around just one artist.

The University of Liverpool launched an MA on The Beatles: Music Industry and Heritage back in 2021, and now the Open University has started its own course on Dolly Parton.

Rather than a full degree, the Dolly Parton module from is a six-week gateway course for standalone study only, with its credits unfortunately not counting towards any OU qualification.

In Dolly Parton: music, identity and culture, students will "explore the relationship between music, identity, and culture through the work of country musician and songwriter Dolly Parton" and "learn about Parton’s appeal to different audiences, her paradoxical artistic persona and the connections between her music and music by other artists".

The course contextualises Dolly's work in the wider picture of country music, and also explores "the genre's associations with place, race and gender".

Dolly Parton receives an Honorary Doctorate Degree from the University of Tennessee
Dolly Parton receives an Honorary Doctorate Degree from the University of Tennessee. Picture: Alamy

Marie Thompson, the academic who wrote the course, told ITV: "The first time I heard 'Jolene' I was so surprised that this person who I'd always thought was the butt of jokes about women's bodies could write this song that had such a complex sentiment.

"I would say that Dolly Parton is a very valuable musician and she deserves to be on a university curriculum."

The course costs £125, and registration closes on January 18, with study starting on February 3;

Dolly Parton at the University of Tennessee
Dolly Parton at the University of Tennessee. Picture: Alamy

As well as her six decades in country music, Dolly Parton has won acclaim for acting in films like 9 to 5, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Rhinestone, Steel Magnolias and Straight Talk.

She has also attracted plaudits for her charitable and philanthropic efforts, with her Dollywood Foundation sending books to children to boost literacy, while she also donated $1 million towards research at Vanderbilt University Medical Center that helped the development of the Moderna vaccine against COVID-19.

Dolly recently was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, prompting her to conceive and record her first rock 'n' roll album Rockstar, released last November.

Dolly Parton - Stairway To Heaven (feat. Lizzo & Sasha Flute) (Official Audio)

Dolly recently joked that her husband Carl Thomas Dean warned her off covering Led Zeppelin's 'Stairway to Heaven' for the record.

"My husband is a huge fan of Led Zeppelin and thinks 'Stairway To Heaven' is one of the classic songs of all time,” she told Classic Rock.

"So he was kind of concerned about me doing it. He said, 'I don't know if you need to mess with that, because I think you'll get a lot of criticism. People don't want other people messing around with that song'.

"But I did it anyhow. And he made a joke about it at first, 'I think that was more like 'Stairwell To Hell' than Stairway To Heaven!'."