Using Music and Lyrics to Teach Political Theory

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PS: Political Science & Politics, ISSN: 1049-0965, Vol: 48, Issue: 03, Page: 483-487

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Rozinski, Tom
Cambridge University Press (CUP); Touro Scholar
Social Sciences; College Students; Political Theory; Music; Teaching; Education; Political Science
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Since the fall semester of 2008, I have used music to teach political theory to undergraduate students. I use song lyrics to make analogies to concepts used by political theorists, and I use the music to create associations that improve students' memory of those concepts. Unlike other teachers who incorporate music into their classes by linking lyrics to concepts, I choose songs that reflect important ideas of specific theorists through multiple allusions to their ideas. The songs I choose serve four objectives: introducing concepts that may be difficult for students to appreciate, illustrating the application of those concepts, reinforcing students' memory through issue-spotting songs, and presenting biographical information about the theorist that they are reading. I illustrate how I achieve these objectives through songs drawn from artists including Billy Joel, Ace of Base, and Supertramp, and musicals including West Side Story and Camelot.