*****my song choice is Stevie Wonder’s Black man***
Song Assignments are fun! Students really like them. Many tell the instructor that it is the most fun paper they have written in college. Here are the reasons why students like this assignment:
You get to pick a song related to race and ethnic relations – any song out there is game for this assignment –I mean ANY;
You then listen to it over and over, find and print the lyrics, then read the lyrics to really get at the bottom of the sociological meaning of the song; and
Finally, you are asked to write a very structured paper applying what you’ve learned about race and ethnic minorities from Iceland’s text to the lyrics of the song you pick.
Fun, right? Think of this paper as a creative way for you to show me how much you’ve learned in the course. Also, think of this paper as a very structured WRITTEN EXAM that culminates into a fabulous paper that you can be proud of! By written exam, I mean that there are very specific things that go in each paragraph of your paper. If you follow the directions carefully, you won’t miss any of them.
Song Assignment Explained
This assignment requires you to analyze the popular cultural medium of music and make connections between the material in the course (Iceland’s text) and what the song says in the lyrics (i.e., words to the song).
The objective is for you to show me that you’ve read and can think critically about society using the popular cultural medium of music.
The goal is to connect different material from the chapters in Iceland — the terms, concepts, ideas, studies, and theories – to the lyrics of a song and then explain the connection. This means you should really think deeply and critically about the lyrics and how they depict the social world as far as race and ethnic relations go.
The major focus of this paper is the lyrics and not the artist, not the group, not the album, not the period when the song was written, not the music video, etc… Do not stray from an analysis of the lyrics. If you do, you will automatically receive a zero (0), and I will stop grading your paper. This paper is simply about making connections between what you learn in Iceland and what the song says in the lyrics.
Preparing to Write
As you read the Iceland text, try to think of songs that match the material that Iceland is discussing. It is a good idea to mark passages and pages where different songs come to mind. This will be helpful when it comes time to write. Once you pick a song to analyze, listen to the song multiple times and print out the lyrics to read and think about as many times as needed.
BEWARE! It is okay to watch the music video of the song you pick to get your sociological imagination flowing, but DO NOT ANALYZE WHAT YOU SEE IN THE VIDEO IN YOUR PAPER. Your analysis and writing should be solely about the lyrics of the song. If you begin to discuss what you see in a video or what actors do in a video, you will automatically earn zero (0) on this assignment. To be safe, don’t mention any videos at all. To be clear, we are analyzing the words in a song. What do they mean? How do they apply/connect to the material in Iceland? What does it mean about society that someone has written a song…with this message?
I recommend using Microsoft Word.
NOTE: Google Docs does not interface well with learning management systems. Do not use Google Docs.
NOTE: Pages do not interface well with learning management systems. I do not recommend using Pages.
Your paper should have one of the following document endings: .doc .docx .pdf
If the professor (or TA) cannot open your paper, you will receive a zero (0) and should contact one of them immediately. If you do not contact one of them within one week of earning the zero (0), the grade will stick.
Use MLA formatting for this paper.
Look at the old example papers in Coursera for what MLA-formatted paper look like. This will help you get started.
Look at the handy MLA Handout that has some particulars about how the professor would like the paper formatted (e.g., no cover page is necessary).
For more help using MLA, visit the Purdue Owl at: Purdue Owl Style Guide
For an example, Works Cited page using MLA formatting: Purdue Owl Works Cited
For example, Page 1 uses MLA formatting: Purdue Owl MLA Formatting
Instructions for What to Write and More about How to Format
At the top left of page one of your Word document double space the following: your name, my full name, the course name and number, and the date. Your page-one heading should look like this:
Your first and last name
Race and Ethnic Minorities, SOCI 4540
Give your paper a title – preferably the name of the song and artist. Do not bold or underline your title. Simply center it. Your title should look like this:
Fuck the Police by NWA.
Make sure to get the running header at the top right correct. It should be your last name and page number and should NOT start on page 1. Start it on page 2 and continue all the way to the Works Cited. Your running header should be right justified. Mine would look like this:
Your Last Name 2
Double-space the content of your Song Assignment. Do not turn in a single-spaced paper.
Be careful not to put too much space in between paragraphs. If you do this, it is not MLA formatting. Sometimes Word has a setting turned on that automatically puts extra space in between paragraphs. This should be set to 0 in your paragraph formatting in Word.
In the Introduction(1 paragraph), tell me the following: a) What song you picked: b) Why you picked this particular song; c) What the song means to you personally; d) What makes you think about this song in a sociological manner, and then tell me e) How the song you picked fits Iceland’s book in a very general manner. To complete this last bit of criteria you must use Iceland’s text to explain. This means you must directly quote Iceland as part of your explanation. When you quote Iceland, be sure to use quotation marks and afterward cite Iceland like this: (Iceland Page#).
NOTE: All paragraphs in this assignment should be at least 8-10 sentences in length. If your paragraphs are not fully developed into 8-10 sentences (minimum), you won’t reach the minimum length requirement and you will lose points in the paragraph and for not meeting the minimum page length required.
The next part of your paper is the analytic paragraphs (APs). This part of your paper should consist of 3-4 paragraphs. Each analytic paragraph should do three things:
First, identify a concept, term, study, or theory from Iceland’s book that BEST fits the song you picked. To do this directly quote Iceland. Then, tell me about what you quoted. What does it mean about race and ethnicity? How is it relevant to the connection you are about to make? Quotes should look like this:
Iceland believes that “…it is likely that darker-skinned Hispanics may face many of the same discriminatory obstacles that blacks do” (Iceland 6-7).
Second, connect the concept, term, study, or theory you mention to a portion of the song (the lyrics). Quote the song lyrics in your writing to show me the connection. When quoting the lyrics for your song, always italicize them so they stand out. Quotes should look like this:
This makes me think about the line in the song that goes, “Fuck the police comin’ straight from the underground / A young nigga got it bad ’cause I’m brown” (NWA.)
Third, show me that you understand what the concept, term, study, or theory from Iceland means by explaining the connection you are attempting to make. This part of each analytic paragraph can be critical about society or it can be in the form of agreement or disagreement with the meaning of the connection. This is where YOUR IDEAS matter. So, what you think matters in this paper. This means tell me what YOU think the connection means or why it is important to note about society. Why does Iceland (or other social science researchers) study whatever it is you’re discussing? Why would songwriters write a song about the same thing? What does it all mean about society? To put it differently, you are telling me the BIG SO WHAT about race and ethnic relations?
REPEAT THIS PROCESS 3-4 TIMES!
Next(1 paragraph), tell me if you think the song you personally picked depicts the social world in a positive or negative light (+, or –, or maybe both). First, take a very clear stance. Then, support your stance by showing lyrics that indicate positive, negative, or both. Quote lyrics in this paragraph (see example above). Be sure to italicize them. Do not use anything from Iceland in this paragraph. Make a case for your stance. Be clear. Then, end the paragraph by discussing the impact this song would have on others if only they would carefully listen to the lyrics. Say something like this: “If only others would really listen to the lyrics of this song, they might…”
NOTE ABOUT STANCE: If you say that the song depicts a society in both a positive and negative light, in your writing show lyrics on both sides demonstrating your complicated stance. This means showing lyrics that depict a society in a positive way AND lyrics that depict a society in a negative way and then providing an explanation for each.
Please use your BEST COLLEGE WRITING for this assignment. Everyone makes minor errors now and then. The professor (and TA) understand this. However, if your paper is full of writing mistakes or sloppily written, you will lose substantial points. Take care to review your writing before submitting. One “once-over” for minor errors usually does the trick. You can also visit the Writing Center on campus for help. You can also contact them online.
Include a Works Cited page at the end of your writing. The Works Cited should be on its own page. The Works Cited should only have the Iceland text and your song selection listed. That’s it! No other sources are required for this paper. This means do not use other sources, only use the song you pick and Iceland’s text. Remember, this is a Written Exam over a song you pick and the Iceland text.
Copy and paste the lyrics to the song at the end of your Word The lyrics should go after the Works Cited page. The lyrics should start on their own page.
When finished, the content of your Song Assignment should be about 3-5 pages in length. This page length does not include the Works Cited page or the lyrics. If your paper is too short (if you do not write a full 3 pages), you will lose points. Please do not go over 6 pages in content with permission to do so.
Sometimes students do not write a full 8-10 sentences in their paragraphs. This hurts in the end because your paper will not meet the minimum of 3 full pages (and you’ll lose points). The professor (and TA) like paragraphs that are fully developed. So, if you come up short of 3 full pages, go back to reread what you’ve written to see if you can add some more solid analysis somewhere.
Sometimes students write 3 very long analytic paragraphs full of great connections. It is fine to do this, as long as you meet the minimum of 4 full pages. Other times, students write 4 analytic paragraphs. That’s fine too. Just be sure to write 8-10 sentences in each paragraph.
*****my song choice is Stevie Wonder’s Black man***