The Art of Song Lyrics

Schools of Public Engagement: Creative Writing

Liberal Arts
Undergraduate Course
Degree Students
The Art of Song Lyrics
Spring 2024
Taught By: Richard Tayson
Section: A

CRN: 8965

Credits: 3

In his essay “Nothingism: A Poetry Manifesto,” Jason Schneiderman states that he doesn’t want “any nonsense about how Bob Dylan or Bruce Springsteen (or Sting) lyrics are poems, when they are clearly incomplete without melody.” This poetry class disputes that claim, looking closely at the intersection between song lyrics, past and present, and contemporary poems. Our point of departure is lyre-wielding French troubadour poets of the 13th century, who lead to British ballads and high Romantic achievements such as Songs of Innocence and of Experience (1789 / 1794) and Lyrical Ballads (1798 / 1802). Once we add African American spirituals to the mix, we are primed for American lyrics of protest sung by Paul Robeson, Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan, and Joni Mitchell. We read essays and interviews of these artists, as well as contemporary books of lyric-inflected works, such as Kevin Young’s Jelly Roll [a Blues] Michael Harper’s Dear John, Dear Coltrane and others. Each class involves workshop discussion of student lyric poems, assignments for which include each of the types of lyric sample poems we read.

College: Schools of Public Engagement (NS)

Department: Creative Writing (CRW)

Campus: New York City (GV)

Course Format: Seminar (R)

Modality: Online - Synchronous

Max Enrollment: 18

Add/Drop Deadline: February 4, 2024 (Sunday)

Online Withdrawal Deadline: April 16, 2024 (Tuesday)

Seats Available: Yes

Status: Closed*

* Status information is updated every few minutes. The status of this course may have changed since the last update. Open seats may have restrictions that will prevent some students from registering. Updated: 11:50pm EDT 4/14/2024

Meeting Info:
Days: Tuesday
Times: 1:55pm - 3:45pm
Building: Online Course
Room: 999
Date Range: 1/23/2024 - 5/7/2024