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Dolly Parton Inspires College History Course

Dolly Parton college class
Christopher Polk, Getty Images

Not only is small-town girl Dolly Parton one of country music’s greatest living legends, she’s also now the subject of a college course. The University of Tennessee in Knoxville is now offering a honors history class all about the iconic singer and proud Tennessee native.

According to the course descriptionDolly’s America: From Sevierville to the World is a history honors 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.” 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 its professor, Dr. Lynn Sacco, saw Parton speak at a UT graduation ceremony, during which the country star was given an honorary doctorate degree.

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“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.'”

Parton poked fun at her high school doubters when she tweeted about UT’s new course: “From the girl voted in high school ‘least likely to succeed’ this sure is a blessing!” Parton wrote.

From her legendary music career (nine Grammy Awards, 26 chart-topping singles and induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame) to her success in film and television (9 to 5 and Steel Magnolias) to her advocacy for education and literacy, Parton has proved her haters wrong many times over. In February, Parton celebrated the 50th anniversary of her debut album’s release; in 2016, she released her 43rd album, Pure and Simple. Parton also recently starred and acted as executive producer in the made-for-TV holiday movie Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love.

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