Research Essay

Choose a contemporary song, musician, or style of music and trace back its influences. Make a thesis statement (aka an argument) about the connection between the historical music/cultural events/places you have researched and the contemporary person/song/style. The music you choose does not have to be American, or in English, as long as your sources are in English.

Example: you could take a song by The Weeknd and talk about how it is a mix of several past genres, from Blues to Rock & Roll to R&B to Pop to Hip Hop. You would need to give specific examples of what the qualities of these genres are and how they have trickled into The Weeknd’s song.

Your essay should have a clear thesis statement. You may NOT use the first person (“I”), but instead should write in the more academic and formal third person.


~ 3500 words; 9-10 double spaced pages

30% of course grade


The usual.  Font: Times New Roman, size 12; 1-inch margins all around; a proper heading; page numbers; a title. For examples of how it should look, check out this page.

Use MLA format. For help with this, reference the purdue owl:


Thesis/Analysis (25%):

What is the thesis or the “so what?” of the piece? What insight does it offer? Is the thesis clear and argumentative? Do you go beyond quoting and paraphrasing your sources to forming your own unique analysis, which you support through your sources?

Organization (20%):

Does the organization make sense and add to the meaning of the piece? Is it interesting and logical? Is each paragraph focused on a single topic, which you go on to develop? Have you thought through which topics to discuss when in the paper, and is there a reason for their placement?

Transitions (10%)

Do you successfully transition between ideas using phrases, rather than transition words?

Style, Grammar, and Editing (20%):

Have you edited and proofread carefully so that no grammatical errors detract from the message and your credibility as a writer? Did you avoid wasteful repetition of language and ideas?

MLA (15%)

Did you properly cite all your sources in the text as well as on the works cited page at the end? Did you format your essay properly?

Process (5%):

Did you complete each required step in the writing process? These include the annotated bibliography, the first draft, the peer review, the individual meeting with me, and the final draft. 

Precise Word Choice/Creative Thinking (5%)

Did you push yourself to use the most precise language available to make your points? Did you ensure that your language is engaging, thoughtful, and clear?

Due Dates:

First Draft of at least 2,500 words placed in your google drive folder by Monday, March 22nd, by 11:55 p.m.

Final Draft placed in your google drive folder by Monday, April 12th at 11:55 p.m.