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No one withdrew after syllabus day. In the semester I piloted a first-year seminar course, the “Rhetoric of Protest Songs,” on the first day of class, I introduced the topic of the class and myself. However, before I gave students the syllabi, I confessed that I knew little about music. I told them I Googled and YouTubed, and read our text to gain knowledge about protest songs. I told them the “Rhetoric of Protest Songs” was a writing class, and rhetoric means persuasion. “In this class, you’ll write academic essays about protest songs. And we’ll listen to some music.”

My students may not have known that when they researched and wrote about protest songs they were entering an ongoing conversations about the role of social justice activism. They do now.



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