Honors College

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Publication Date

Spring 5-2016


This thesis explores the role of identity and power in contemporary topical song using three case studies. The first of these deals with two songs written after the arrest of Maine’s North Pond Hermit in April 2013. It makes a case for the songs, in the context of other creative reactions to the hermit’s arrest, as being expressions of anxiety related to Maine identity. The second study is about new versions of the labor song “Which Side Are You On,” with a particular focus on one from Wisconsin one from Maine. It looks at the theme of solidarity through analysis of the lyrics of the songs, context and function of their performance, and the attitudes about them. The third study involves two songs written in response to water metering in Ireland, looking at their differing strategies to express a shared concern regarding the new water charging system as it relates to Irishness. The concluding chapter examines the three studies together. All three relate in some manner to identity being threatened by more powerful outside interests. They, in turn, use this concept of identity to express concern or mobilize against that power. In addition to identity, other rhetorical and performance strategies are used, such as humor, invocation of previous movements, and digital technology.

Included in

Anthropology Commons