Springsteen’s Born in the U.S.A.: Promoting Historical Inquiry through Music
Tina L. Heafner
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Appalachian State University
Music elicits emotions and acts as a cultural definer of class values, political beliefs, and economic life. Students are intrinsically drawn to and possess an innate ability for interpreting music. Music, moreover, activates learning in ways other content sources cannot; yet, it is utilized infrequently in social studies classrooms as a historical inquiry tool. Harnessing its emotive and seductive power, music as a primary source naturally scaffolds understanding of the zeitgeist through sensory engagement and lyrical analyses. Focusing on Born in the U.S.A. (Springsteen, 1984), authors demonstrate how examining music can impart views often absent from mass media portrayal of historical events and eras. A music listening and analysis tool is employed as a heuristic for critically interpreting music to explore the past. The historical thinking processes presented offer an inquiry-oriented curricular model for integrating music and social studies.
Keywords: music, historical thinking, close reading, contextualizing, corroborating,sourcing, lyrical analysis, text chunking