Born in the U.S.A: Music as Political Protest

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This Born in the U.S.A: Music as Political Protest activity also includes:

Though often used in shows of patriotism, Bruce Springsteen's 1985 song "Born in the U.S.A." is critical of America's role in the Vietnam war and its treatment of American veterans. High schoolers analyze the song's lyrics in an activity that focuses on rhetorical devices, irony, and tone.

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CCSS: Adaptable
Instructional Ideas
  • Create an interdisciplinary unit between language arts and social studies during a lesson on the Vietnam War and figurative language, or when focusing on the Bill of Rights
  • Have learners choose other songs written during and about the Vietnam War, as well as subsequent American wars (e.g. the Gulf War, the Iraq War) to analyze and present in similar ways
  • Encourage class members to write their own protest songs about political or local issues that matter to them
  • Use the final critical thinking question as a writing prompt for an argument paper
Classroom Considerations
  • Does not provide a link to the audio of the song, but it is readily found online; the packet does include lyrics and guiding questions
  • Provides background information for both the Vietnam War and prominent rhetorical devices
  • Prompts learners to consider the ways the First Amendment protects them and their cultural heroes
  • None