Put simply, your task in this assignment is to compare and contrast 5-8 country songs in the Buzzfeed listicle format. The songs you select must somehow be connected, whether because they offer perspectives on the same issue (adoption, gun violence, political polarization, etc.) or because they invoke common images or themes (tractors, whiskey, respect for parents, etc.).
You will introduce each song with an appropriate visual and proceed to identify some of the rhetorical strategies (appeals to ethos, pathos, and logos; style; etc.) that are discussed in our textbook, Rhetorical Analysis, pp. 44-67 and 136-165. In the individual analyses as well as the conclusion, you will explain reader how and why these songs utilize these strategies differently.
The essay is worth 20% of your final grade–5% for the draft, which you will upload to Canvas, and 15% for the final, which you will post to the Country Music Project. You will receive 5% of extra credit if you submit the final article to Buzzfeed and an additional 5% if it is accepted as a “community feature.”
Before reading further, please download the rubric.
Topic & Format:
1. Select a title that catches the reader’s attention. Matthew Barby, an experienced Buzzfeed author, has done research indicating that the best titles ask questions and are more than seven words long. Michael Reed Roberts offers other ideas for writing “clickbait” titles.
2. In the introduction, identify the issue, image, or theme that unites the songs in your listicle. Use research (hyperlinks) to convince a typical Buzzfeed reader that it is a timely topic that is worth their time. Briefly indicate how you have selected the songs that your article is featuring and what conclusions you expect your reader to reach after having read the entire article.
3. In the body, list and discuss your 5-8 songs. Introduce each song with a heading that includes the song’s title, performer, and year. It should look something like this:
“Three Wooden Crosses” (2002) by Randy Travis
In your analysis, you should briefly summarize the song’s content or story, how it relates to the overall theme of your listicle (unless it is extremely obvious), and identify the relevant rhetorical strategies. The strongest listicles will indicate not only how these songs are similar or different (as regards their use of rhetorical strategies), but also why. Use hyperlinks to defend your interpretation.
4. Embed images or videos that reinforce the tone of your article and keep your readers interested. In the draft that you submit to Canvas, you may simply include hyperlinks to the images/videos that you intend to use in the final article.
5. Finish the article with a conclusion that punctuates your main argument.
- Articles should be roughly 1500 words in length.
- Sources: Cite at least four credible sources in your article. Since you are writing for Buzzfeed, your sources should all be available online at URLs that are unlikely to change in the near future (news sites, online magazines, blogs, etc.). Although you may find Wikipedia, search engines like Google, and user comments and reviews helpful for formulating your arguments, you may not cite these kinds of materials as sources. Give authors credit by putting quote marks around words and phrases that you borrow directly from them and by embedding hyperlinks that lead readers back to your sources. Do not include a list of Works Cited at the bottom of the article.
- Submitting the first draft: Submit the first draft to Canvas as a doc, docx, or pdf file. The day that essays are due, Canvas will assign you to peer review two other students’ essays. Peer reviews are due the following class day.
- Submitting the final draft: Submit the final draft directly to the Country Music Project. To begin working on the final draft, log into the class website, and use the “+” button to create a new page (not post). To make sure that your page appears at the right place on the site, select “The History” from the “Parent” drop menu on the right side of the screen.
- Extra credit: You will receive 5% extra credit on the final article if you decide to submit it to Buzzfeed and an additional 5% it is selected as a “Community Feature.” (Posting an article to Buzzfeed is similar to contributing a page to the class site). Do not submit your article to the class website if you submit it to Buzzfeed. Just email me the URL to the final article.
- To learn more about Buzzfeed‘s audience, check out the company’s advertising page and Alexa’s more statistical breakdown.
- After examining 47,000 Buzzfeed articles by other people and writing a few of his own, Matthew Barby identifies the characteristics of a strong article.
- If you’re submitting your article to Buzzfeed, check out this quick tutorial.