Rhetorical Analysis of Music

Course Name: 
WRD 110
WRD 111
Assignment Type: 
Classroom Activity
Assignment Length: 
One Class Period
Primary Pedagogical Focus: 
Preparation Guidance and Instructor Advice: 

I use this assignment to discuss rhetoric—especially social protest—in different mediums.  For this assignment, you could ask them to first read NPR’s “Where Are They Now?: 7 Protest Songs With Legs.”

For homework, I assign a set of songs.  Students read the lyrics, watch live performances or official videos, and read articles about the artist/band/song.  I typically assign two different versions of one song, or two songs about similar issues.  They use these to examine context, and ethos/pathos specifically.  I ask them specific questions comparing different versions of a song, or two songs on similar themes.   

For instance, I assign a song by Rage Against the Machine and another song with a different message on “revolution” (such as the Beatles, “Revolution”).  I’ve also assigned different versions of “Jolene” (Dolly Parton & Jack White), “Hurt” (Johnny Cash & Trent Reznor), or “Changes” (TuPac & Bruce Hornsby).  We discuss these in class.

I also ask them to bring in lyrics to one song that they think makes social commentary.  They trade lyrics with a partner, and discuss the meanings of the song and how it makes a message.

Enter your linkblue username.
Enter your linkblue password.
Secure Login

This login is SSL protected