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In her 2017 article, “Beyonce’s Overwhelming Opus; or, the Past and Future of Music Video,” Carol Vernallis claims that music video has played a central role in creating a culture of what she calls “intensified audiovisuality.” Moreover, she argues the following: “If schools, museums, and libraries paid more attention to ‘minor arts’ like pop music and music video, we might interpret our contemporary mediascape differently, and we might be more attuned to the ways audiovisual ideas flow through today’s media swirl.” George Lipsitz also argues that popular music ought to be taken seriously. In his 2007 book, Footsteps in the Dark: The Hidden Histories of Popular Music, Lipsitz argues that popular songs can reflect and shape “important historical realities, even though their creators for the most part never intended them to be heard in that way” (Lipsitz viii). Taking a similar approach to Lipsitz in her celebrated study of blues music, Blues Legacies and Black Feminism (1999), Angela Davis argues that female blues musicians bridged social consciousness with musical expression, thereby paving the way for later artists and the evolution of popular music. In short, music is not just historical. It’s history in the making. For this research paper, you will choose any music (or related subject) to take up as your object of study. It might be one song or several songs. It might be a single album. It might be one artist; it might be a pairing or group of related artists. It might be songs that address a related issue. No matter the quantity of songs, genre of music, or exact media form, your goal is this: to employ the ideas and methods of the above-mentioned authors in order to make a case for the importance of the music you choose. The music you choose to study may or may not relate to the specific genres or topics taken up by Vernallis, Lipsitz, and Davis. Nevertheless, your research paper should attempt to draw parallels and establish continuities between these scholars’ projects and your own. Most importantly, your research paper must resemble, in noticeable ways, these scholars’ methods of inquiry. Vernallis, Lipsitz, and Davis’s methods will be a central focus in our online discussions, and in the research paper, modeling these writers will be your single-most important key to success. Include quotes, paraphrases, and references from Kellner and Share, Vernallis, Lipsitz, Davis, and your outside sources. It is required that you incorporate their perspectives in order to anchor your project as working scholarship. You must cite ALL sources used in your paper. Failure to do so will be considered plagiarism and will result in a grade of F on the assignment. Keys to Success Make a case for the importance of your selected music. What social, cultural, or political significance—historical and/or contemporary—can be discovered in the music? Has its significance been misinterpreted or underappreciated? Has the music been neglected by certain demographics? Who is it that might need to be convinced that this music matters? Give only a brief biographical overview of the artist. This overview should serve to illuminate the music. Do not give an extended encyclopedic overview of the artist’s life. Interpret and explain the lyrics (as opposed to summarizing them). Prioritize your own explanations, and feel free to do so in conversation with other interpretations of the lyrics. Interpret the music itself along with any relevant album art, videos, concerts, etc., when applicable. Utilize relevant research materials: articles, books, album reviews, recordings, video footage, and websites that illuminate or discuss your album and the artist.

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