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Teaching Literary Analysis Through Modern Song Lyrics

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"Maybe it's hatred I spew, Maybe it's food for the spirit." "I was not born under a rhyming planet." One of the above quotes is by the famous poet William

"Maybe it's hatred I spew, Maybe it's food for the spirit." "I was not born under a rhyming planet." One of the above quotes is by the famous poet William Shakespeare and the other is by famous rap artist, Eminem. In modern society, many students view the works of artists like Eminem to be understandable and even relatable, while the works of classic poets like Shakespeare are a foreign language. However, when the lines are isolated from their entirety, it is very hard to determine the author of each. This Creative Project focuses on how we can use the works of modern lyricists to help teach the works of traditional literature. Not all students are fond of poetry and many of them view literary analysis as a tedious activity. However, almost everyone enjoys listening to music. This Creative Project shows how listening and interpreting modern song lyrics can be used as a tool to teach literary analysis. One of the main reasons students have difficulty with literary analysis is that they have trouble relating to the wording and style of the literature. By analyzing works more familiar to them (i.e. Kendrick Lamar, The Beatles, or Bob Dylan) the skills will be more easily transferable to analyzing traditional literature. The idea that songwriters can be comparable to famous poets has been picking up traction in recent years. In fact, in 2016, Bob Dylan, American singer and songwriter, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature breaking a trend of novels being awarded. This project's goal is to create a class unit for high school English students that teaches analytical skills for contemporary texts (i.e. modern song lyrics). In addition, a unit was created that used the analysis of contemporary lyrics in a middle school Social Studies course. This differentiation shows that development of literary analysis skills are applicable to subjects other than English Literature.

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Date Created
  • 2017-05