Category Archives: Class2

Respond to Camille Paglia on Katy Perry and Taylor Swift [critical writing]

Today’s readings include a piece by Camille Paglia entitled “Taylor Swift, Katy Perry and Hollywood Are Ruining Women.” This piece has provoked a lot of responses–let’s hear yours. Write a thorough critique of the article. What is her argument? Which points do you agree with, and which not? Is Paglia’s evidence solid?


Response paper to “Free to Be You and Me” [critical writing]

The album Free to Be You and Me was released by the Ms. Foundation for Women in 1972–a television special followed several years later–and it was intended to encourage gender neutrality.
We’ll be listening to some excerpts for class today, but for this assignment, you should listen to the whole album. Write a critical response. How do the songs challenge traditional gender roles or stereotypes? Do the messages of these songs hold up in 2013?


Suffrage song analyses [critical writing]

Take one of the songs on the listening list for today, which all either support or caricature the women’s suffrage movement in some way. Write a detailed, 1-page analysis of the song. Your discussion should include both the lyrics and the music.

What is the form of the song? What message do the lyrics send, and how do they send it? How does the music support or alter the meaning of the lyrics? (Listen for the use of major or minor keys, the tempo, the way the performer sings, etc.)


Virtuosa in 17th- and 18th-century Europe [research]

As opera became one of Europe’s most popular forms of entertainment in the 17th and 18th centuries, many women became singing stars. Using and other scholarly resources, find out about one of them.

Post about this performer in the “Opera singers” thread on Blackboard. Give us links to biographical information and, if possible, a recording of a piece of music she may have sung.


Gender in Medieval lyrics paper [critical writing]

In the packet of lyrics posted on Blackboard, you’ll find a selection of medieval lyrics. Some have been attributed to women, some to men, and some are anonymous, but I have blacked out all of this information. Looking only at the lyrics (and their English translations, of course), do you think it is possible to determine the gender of the author? Select the lyric you think is most likely to be by a woman and the one you think is most likely to be by a man, and write a description of each. Point out any words, phrases, or grammatical features that you think could possibly indicate the author’s gender. The articles listed under the reading for today describe what historians look for, and will give you some ideas.


Historiography paper [critical writing]

Write out answers to the following questions, and be prepared to discuss your responses in class:

According to Sherrie Tucker, what is the “dominant swing discourse”? In other words, why are women swing musicians so often left out of jazz history?

What challenges does Tucker face in revising jazz history to include all-girl bands, and what strategies does she plan to use to overcome them?


4/17 Women in Contemporary Pop Music

Women in contemporary pop music – Pop singers and 21st-century feminism

Reading: Camille Paglia, “Taylor Swift, Katy Perry and Hollywood Are Ruining Women,”, 6 December 2012:
Ramin Setoodeh, “Taylor Swift Dishes on Her New Album ‘Red,’ Dating, Heartbreak, and ‘Grey’s Anatomy’,”, 22 October 2012:

Viewing: Katy Perry accepting Billboard’s “Woman of the Year” award in 2012:

Listening: Taylor Swift, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”
Katy Perry, “I Kissed a Girl”


4/3 Pop Music and Second-Wave Feminism

Pop Music and Second-Wave Feminism – Interpreting Pop Music

Reading: Gillian Gaar, Excerpt from “Hear Me Roar” in She’s a Rebel: The History of Women in Rock & Roll
Dan Kois, “Free to Be,” Slate, 22 October 2012 (

Listening: Lesley Gore “You Don’t Own Me”
Aretha Franklin, “Respect”
Helen Reddy, “I Am Woman”
Loretta Lynn, “The Pill”
Excerpts from Marlo Thomas and Friends, Free to Be You and Me

3/20: Music and the Women’s Suffrage Movement

Music and the Women’s Suffrage Movement

Reading: Susan J. Glenn, “Actresses and Activism,” from Female Spectacle: The Theatrical Roots of Modern Feminism, pp. 134–148

Listening: Anna Chandler, “She’s Good Enough to Be Your Baby’s Mother, and She’s Good Enough to Vote With You”
Billy Murray, “Your Mother’s Gone Away to Join the Army”
Maurice Burkhart, “Since My Margarette Become a Suffragette”