If you choose to write an essay in any given unit, your first step is to participate in discussion. Discussions will involve an initial post from you, in which you describe your listening experience to a song. You should complete your discussion post early if possible, so that you can get feedback from a TA about what you’ve written. That feedback should help you develop an essay assignment.

To write your essay, draft your thoughts first in a word processing application, and then return to the readings and listenings to help you re-think your ideas. Make reference to the specific articles by quoting or paraphrasing them directly, with reference to page numbers. Always cite your sources, and try to stick to the sources assigned in this course. (This is not a research paper, but an essay on the recordings that you’ve listened to, with observations supported and contextualized by ideas raised in lecture and in the readings.) Return to your work after a couple of days to proof-read it carefully. When you are finished, post your essay on the essay page for the unit you’re working on.

When writing essays, keep in mind your peers will want to respond to what you say, so make your thoughts intelligible, organized, and easy to read. Do not feel the need to write an exciting introduction or conclusion, telling us how amazing the songs are, or how important they are to music history. Just try to describe the specifics of what you hear in the music itself.

Your finished essay should be between 600-800 words long, about the length of four double-spaced pages. Please keep in mind your peers will want to respond to what you say, so make your thoughts intelligible, organized, and easy to read. When you are finished, post the essay to the appropriate page in the “UNIT _ ESSAYS GO HERE” folder, under the appropriate Unit Folder in the discussion section of the website.

If you have any trouble submitting your post, please contact your topic TA immediately, including an attachment of your work with the email. (Please add cc to Benja dot carson at g mail dot com.)


We have 5 units in the course, and you need to choose topics in only 2 of these units, as the topics of your two essays (total) this quarter. The deadlines for the essays are at noon on each of the dates as follows:

Unit 1 — October 15

Unit 2 — October 29

Unit 3 — Extended to Saturday, November 14 at 12:00 noon. (Discussion posts are still due on November 12.)

Unit 4 — November 24

Unit 5 — December 3

These are the same as the final deadlines for your initial “Discussion Posts” for each unit.


When you are done with your essay, please take time read your peers’ posts and essays, compare and contrast your thoughts, and continue discussion.

There are lots of resources to help you compose your essay assignment — a sample essay by me, a description of how the sample essay serves as a model for you … and some other helpful hints in case you’re having a hard time getting started.

NOTE ON STYLE: The post should NOT contain phrases like “As I listened to these songs, I found myself…”, or “As I began to write this assignment, I…” or “At first I had no idea what to write about, but then I discovered that…” If you would like to share your experiences of the course in general, or how you did the assignments, or what you thought of them, share them by creating a new journal entry on the “discussing what’s on your mind” page. (Or feel free to post them anywhere else on or off the site.)