Fans enjoy Europe's first Taylor Swift conference

Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift's album, The Tortured Poets Department, topped the UK charts with the biggest first-week sales in seven years [Getty Images]

“Swifties” took a deep dive into Taylor Swift’s life and music at an event in Kent on Friday as they explored the singer’s impact on feminism.

The University of Kent’s Canterbury campus hosted the first academic conference on the singer to be held in Europe - and fans were buzzing at the prospects of spending a day discussing their favourite subject.

Elspeth Kennedy, who was a conference assistant at the event, said: “It’s a really nostalgic feeling when I listen to her.”

“I remember being sat in front of my dad’s laptop on YouTube, with Love Story open, learning the whole song, listening to it 20 times a day – and now I’m watching my sister buying [Swift’s] vinyls. It’s a full circle moment.”

Taylor Swift fan Elspeth Kennedy holding a microphone at a Taylor Swift conference
Elspeth Kennedy first started listening to Taylor Swift on her dad's laptop as a child [University of Kent]

Swift’s fans say she has been important in many cultural debates in recent years.

“It’s the diverse topics that she covers, she culturally significant at the moment. She does a lot talking about mental health and relationships,” said Ms Kennedy.

Organisers said the conference would cover a broad range of topics, from analysing Swift’s role as songwriter and creative to unpacking her legal cases and examining her position as a queer icon.

Noor Aliya Khan holding a microphone
Noor Aliya Khan called Taylor Swift an icon [University of Kent]

“She’s so empowering as a female. The way she’s gone so far, being a woman in such a pressurising industry,” said Noor Aliya Khan, who attended the event.

“She is in a position to accentuate the idea of feminism and create her own new wave of feminism that would be relevant for such a wide fan base.

“Taylor is a feminist icon, but she can be better – we can all be better.”

Sophie Conner (left) and Harmony Brown-Ali at the conference
Sophie Conner (left) and Harmony Brown-Ali at the conference [University of Kent]

Meanwhile, super fan Sophie Conner praised Swift’s authenticity, saying she always speak from the heart, while Harmony Brown-Ali, an English literature student, said she enjoyed discussing how much of the singer’s work is related to poetry.

The event came ahead of Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour landing in the UK. She will play 15 shows across England, Scotland and Wales during June and August.

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