Research Paper Assignment on The Black Freedom Movement and the Civil Rights Movement

Assignment Description:
For this assignment, you will create a 3-song soundtrack album exploring one of the social justice movements discussed in our class (for example, Women’s Suffrage, the Black Freedom Movement and the Civil Rights Movement, the Counterculture, the Bodily Revolution). Your song selections may be period pieces that encapsulate the mood or events of the time. You will consider song content as well as the circumstances in which the song was composed, performed, received and marketed. This assignment will give you an opportunity to reflect on course themes and readings and assess how each song sheds light on popular culture and social movements. You will present your insights in a 4-5 page (double-spaced, 12 point font, 1-inch margins) research paper.

You are expected to:
Explain how each song fits the context of the social justice movement. The focus of the assignment is to create a soundtrack that works effectively to narrate the feelings, experiences and ideas of a particular social movement. Your soundtrack should also reflect the theoretical and practical foundations outlined throughout the course.

Be sure to include as many specific details and quotes as possible. I may not have heard all the songs you choose. Therefore, it is crucial that you include specific lyrics from the song in your explanations when making arguments. You must explain how those lyrics directly relate to the main issues and themes within the movement. You also must demonstrate how these songs reflect a particular gendered lens to address the movement. Essentially, it is your job to prove that the songs fit in with the social justice movement.

Assignment Details:
1. Choose 3 songs. For each song include the title, artist, and portion of the lyrics that support your analysis.
2. Be sure you choose songs that relate to specific events, participants, and aspects of the social justice movement.
3. Only one song per artist. The more variety in song choice/style, the better.
4. Just as music producers do, try to create a progression in the sequence of your chosen songs. Think about time period, artist, and intended audience. Put some thought into the order of your songs and the complete package you are presenting.
5. Your written portion must be correctly written according to grammar, punctuation, capitalization, etc. rules.
6. Remember that songs/lyrics used in our lectures CAN’T be used for your analysis.
7. Remember that you CAN’T use contemporary song choices or artists (ex. Lady Gaga) in your analysis. You also cannot review social movements that are still ongoing (ex. Black Lives Matter).
8. Optional: You can also create an album cover to represent your soundtrack.

Written Analysis:
Remember this is a research paper. Therefore, your song choices must be integrated in an essay style format that detail how and why they fit in to a particular social justice movement. Comment on the connection between the music and the social movement. Your analysis must have a well- developed argument that is clearly stated in the form of a thesis statement at the beginning of your essay. A thesis along the lines of “This soundtrack looks at gender” is not a well-developed argument. Your thesis needs to be more specific than this. For example, “This soundtrack identifies three particular songs written in the 1940s concerned with intersections of gender and class and the ways music supported women’s labour activism at the time.” Your job, then, is to provide evidence in the form of concrete examples that support this argument.
Your analysis should integrate at least (2) course readings into your analysis and your paragraphs should be connected to one another.

Questions to consider:

• Who wrote, sang and produced the song?
• When was the song released?
• Was the song re-released by another artist?
• Who is the intended audience?
• How does the song fit into your particular social justice movement?
• How does the song grapple with gender inequalities, and consider other diversities among people (i.e. race, class, sexuality, ability etc.)?
• Does the song account for material inequalities, social exclusions, and class structure?

Strong Thesis statements samples written by former students:
1. The five songs of the 1960’s to 1970’s, included in the soundtrack, were written to identify the cultural changes of gender conformity, activism for peace and fashion and how the music supported the hippie movement. Through the following five songs, common themes associated with the hippie movement can be identified. Songs from Peter, Paul & Mary, The Who, Scott Mckenzie, John Lennon and Cat Stevens will be analyzed.

2. As gender can be used as a category of analysis to see how it has differed throughout the time periods, common factors such as the relationship to power are prevalent. This rings especially true for the civil rights movement and the black liberation movement which dealt with both racial and gender inequality. These movements both used music as a way to express their struggles and the inequalities they underwent. This soundtrack identifies three songs in particular that were released in the 1960s and 1970s which represent race and gender in the support of black liberation and women’s rights.