A book lies open on a desk, with a pair of white ear-buds acting as a bookmark.

Literary Playlist

How can we use music to communicate about characters and themes in a story?

Project Summary

In this project, students read and analyze a work of literature and develop custom music playlists that portray the development of themes and/or characters over the course of the story. Students might self-select a work to read or work with a core required text (e.g., The Odyssey by Homer, Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, or In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez). Taking on the role of curators for a streaming music service (such as Spotify, Soundcloud, Pandora, or YouTube) that is producing a special edition collection of literary-inspired playlists, students break the literary work into sections, identify key themes or phases of character development in each section, and choose a song to capture the essence of each theme/character development. Although this project is done individually or in pairs, students engage in peer critique processes during the development of their playlists and must (verbally and in writing) explain and refine their rationale for selecting each song.

Students publish their playlists, along with a detailed set of liner notes that provide an evidence-based analysis of the themes or character development throughout the written work and a rationale for the selection of each song. Students share their playlists and liner notes via social media and/or on a class website.

Note that the duration of this project may vary depending on the nature, complexity, and length of the texts students read.

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