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The Notion of Song, Identities, Discourses, and Power: Bridging Songs with Literary Texts to Enhance Students’ Interpretative Skills

Esdaille, Elroy Alister

Sometimes students struggle to interpret literary texts because some of these texts do not lend themselves to the deduction of the interpretative processes with which they are familiar, but the same is not true when students pull interpretations from songs. Is it possible that students’ familiarity with songs might enable them to connect a song with a book and aid interpretation that way? This study attempted to explore the possibility of bridging songs to literary texts in my Community College English classroom, to ascertain if or how the use of song can support or extend students’ interpretive strategies across different types of texts. I investigated how songs might work as a bridge to other texts, like novels, and, if the students use songs as texts, to what extent do the students develop and hone their interpretative skills? Because of this, how might including songs as texts in English writing or English Literature curriculum contribute to the enhancement of students’ writing? The students’ responses disclosed that the songs appealed to their cognition and memories and helped them to interpret and write about the novels they read. Moreover, the students’ responses revealed that pairing or matching songs with novels strengthened interpretation of the book in a plethora of ways, such as meta-message deduction, applying contexts, applying comparisons, and examining thematic correlations. When a novel is bridged or paired with a song, interpretation can also be derived by examining different perspectives, characterizations, personal connections, and life experiences. Exploring emotional connections as well as signs and symbolism can also enable interpretation. Another way to deduce interpretation, according to the students, is to locate a reoccurring issue or thread in a song and transfer the analysis from the song to the novel. However, although a few students might not use songs to interpret literary texts, they might still be able to recognize that the possibility exists to grasp meaning that way.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
English Education
Thesis Advisors
Vinz, Ruth
Degree
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
May 6, 2020