Songs of Freedom

Paper instructions

You write a weekly blog called “Songs of Freedom” Each entry discusses a song that had a significant impact upon American society, but which is largely forgotten today.

Write a blog entry about one of the Lesson 02 songs, important in its time, but now largely forgotten. Wake up your reader to this song, its original audience and purpose, as well as its impact on and meaning for the society, culture or politics of its time.

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As you plan your blog entry, recall the class material about the ways in which a song can function, for the singers of the song, as well as for the listeners who may support, oppose, or feel neutral about its statement. What means does the song use to to accomplish its aims? How successful was it? Would it be successful today? How and why did it move you enough to write about it? (These are examples of the kinds of questions you will want to address for your readers.)

Draw on the entire lesson’s material to support your presentation and point of view.

You can assume the reader has access to the song, or at least the text). Make sure that your paragraphs are not too long, and that each begins with a clear topic sentence. (See my Announcement post about paragraph structure.)
2) Omit needless words. Some telltale signs? “The fact that . . .” “The reason that I say this is because . . . ” “I am writing this letter to say that . . . “; “My opinion on this matter is that I . . . ” Here’s a sentence conversion for you to remember. It may help you to fix those nasty “needless word” phrases in your own writing. WRONG: “I’m the kind of person who really enjoys a good argument.” RIGHT: “I enjoy a good argument.”

3) Don’t repeat yourself. If something is important, figure out a strong way to state it. Saying it twice in slightly different ways tells your reader that you are not confident in your argument;

4) Be specific. Give dates, names, places, definitions. If you say “Back then, the minstrel show was . . . “. Back when, specifically? What was a minstrel show?

5) Be clear. Assume your reader is intelligent and curious, but completely ignorant of your subject. Use plain, simple English words. Don’t use fancy vocabulary or jargon unless there is simply no ordinary word in the English language that will do. Don’t say: “Stephen Foster utilized ‘Negro dialect’ in his early minstrel songs.” Say: “Stephen Foster used ‘Negro dialect’ . . . ”

6) Begin each paragraph with a topic sentence, and add two-to-four supporting sentences. Remember: One paragraph = one topic, and one topic = one paragraph. Don’t mix topics within a paragraph. If you are going to discuss another matter or argue another point, start a new paragraph. I prefer shorter paragraphs myself, probably because my writing job now is in journalism. But as long as you stick to one topic per paragraph, you’ll be fine. Be sure that each essay, however small or long, starts with an introductory paragraph and ends with a concluding paragraph. Neither of these should contain any arguments or evidence. Your intro lays out what you are going to do, and your conclusion sums up your arguments.

7) Make sure that you read each assignment several times, and that you understand your entire task completely. Effective students break down an essay question or writing assignment into an outline on which to build their response. This assures that all the bits and pieces of the assignment, and all of its conditions and circumstances, will be covered. Don’t “over answer.” Don’t get into side issues and subjects that distract from your main task and focus. Stay on topic, and don’t stray.

Don’t be afraid to appeal to your readers’ emotions, BUT — be concise and clear. Don’t repeat yourself. Omit needless words. Be specific, giving names, places, and dates. Avoid the overused and empty words “interesting,” “amazing,” and “iconic.”

Edit, revise, and shape your first draft in such a way that your readers will want to come back for more. Tell a story, and keep it moving forward.
Links for the song: (Choose only one)


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