Overview

In 2016, the Swedish Academy awarded Bob Dylan the Nobel Prize in Literature. While the announcement spurred heated debates on Dylan’s particular merits, the underlying message was clear: lyrics are literature. This chapter contains lessons that approach popular music as literature, as well as work that explores the interactions of style, time, and place between popular songs and celebrated works of fiction and poetry.

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Lessons

Dylan as Poet

How did Bob Dylan merge poetry with popular music?
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Heroes and Mortals in “Something Just Like This”

Who are the gods and superheroes referenced in “Something Just Like This,” and what are the connections between them?
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Debating Dylan’s Nobel Prize

What are the arguments for and against Bob Dylan receiving the Nobel Prize in Literature?
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The Musical History of the Cajuns

How did the Acadians, or Cajuns, use music and dance to maintain their communal bonds after being displaced during the French and Indian War?
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New Perspectives on The Great Gatsby’s Daisy Buchanan

Does Lana Del Rey’s “Young and Beautiful” help humanize Daisy Buchanan of The Great Gatsby?
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Celebrating Community with Art and Poetry (Elementary School Version)

What different types of communities exist, and how do the people in our communities impact us?
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Celebrating Community with Art and Poetry (High School Version)

What different types of communities exist, and how do the people in our communities impact us?
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Blues, Poetry, and the Harlem Renaissance

How does Langston Hughes’ Blues-inspired poetry exemplify the ideals of the Harlem Renaissance?
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