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Springsteen’s Born in the U.S.A.: Promoting Historical Inquiry through Music

1University of North Carolina at Charlotte
2Elizabeth Bellows
3Appalachian State University

Social Studies Research and Practice

ISSN: 1933-5415

Article publication date: 1 November 2014

Issue publication date: 1 November 2014



Music elicits emotions and acts as a cultural definer of class values, political beliefs, and economic life. Students are intrinsically drawn to and possess an innate ability for interpreting music. Music, moreover, activates learning in ways other content sources cannot; yet, it is utilized infrequently in social studies classrooms as a historical inquiry tool. Harnessing its emotive and seductive power, music as a primary source naturally scaffolds understanding of the zeitgeist through sensory engagement and lyrical analyses. Focusing on Born in the U.S.A. (Springsteen, 1984), authors demonstrate how examining music can impart views often absent from mass media portrayal of historical events and eras. A music listening and analysis tool is employed as a heuristic for critically interpreting music to explore the past. The historical thinking processes presented offer an inquiry-oriented curricular model for integrating music and social studies.



Heafner, T.L., Groce, E. and Finnell, A. (2014), "Springsteen’s Born in the U.S.A.: Promoting Historical Inquiry through Music", Social Studies Research and Practice, Vol. 9 No. 3, pp. 118-138.



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