Breath of Clarity

Design your own three-and-a-half week intellectual adventure

My design for a block course at Colorado College would simply encompass the intellectual adventure my mind embarks on daily. The class would be an analytical literature class titled The Power of Lyrics: Word’s Impact on Human Emotion. The focus would be on the ways that lyrics and poetry stimulate the mind. The fact that songs and poems are short in length would allow this block to feel intellectually exciting, as opposed to an academic burden. It would show neuroscience and music majors that we regularly engage with literature, allowing the rhetoric of the written word to constantly impact us, whether within or outside of our consciousness.

The class would be interdisciplinary- approaching the material from a psychological, sociological, musical, and medical-biological perspective. Students would write a series of papers to incorporate the tools of literary analysis. Additionally there will be labs that investigate the scientific processes that occur within the body when a verse causes an individual to integrate the words with his or her past history and memory. There would definitely be multiple field trips for this course. We would travel to different types of concerts to observe the audiences of a variety of musical genres and study their responses to the stimuli. We would also watch videos of artists talking about their lyrics in order to understand where lyric ideas originate. Furthermore, we will explore whether or not the gender of an individual affects the impact of the lyrics. Ultimately, this course will offer insight into the human condition, and will most importantly make the students who take the course pay closer attention to the power of words in music and art.

This topic is particularly thought provoking to me because I sincerely think that lyrics and poetry served as an emotional support system during a significantly challenging period of my life. Specifically, listening to some of John Mayer’s lyrics that dive into the essence of the human condition and coping with loneliness became a healthy coping strategy for me. I’ve always wondered why his words, simply a combination of syllables, were so beneficial to me. If I can discover why lyrics impact the human soul so strongly, I can further strategically extend the personal benefit that they bring. This block would definitely contribute to my field of study because it would allow me to formulate a convincing argument that music serves as a stellar coping method for dealing with depression. For those individuals who are at an emotional low, and not ready to build up hope in their ability to feel better, the knowledge about the topic might make them feel that this strategy is worth a try. Just as scholars work diligently to come up with explanations for the inevitably unfortunate aspects of life, we must also embark on investigations to discover why lyrical poetry is so beautiful. It’s the only way we’ll ever be able to maximize the utility reached from it.