HUM 100 Module Four Worksheet
This worksheet will serve as a practice activity for your Project 1 submission. Complete the worksheet by replacing the bracketed text with the relevant information.
In the first column of the worksheet, you will find the questions from Project 1.
In the second column of the worksheet, you will find strategies and answers to those questions, based on an artifact from the humanities: the song “All Shook Up,” written by Otis Blackwell and sung by Elvis Presley.
Note: You will be submitting your Project 1 artifact chart in Module Six, so take this opportunity to identify any questions you may struggle with and reach out to your instructor with any questions or concerns you have.
|Question (from Project 1)||Potential Strategies for Answering Questions||Practice Answers|
|I. Describe the artifact in detail. For instance, how would you describe it to someone who could not see it? [You practiced this in Module Two.]||Your response might include basic and technical details about the artifact, such as its medium, who made it, where it comes from, and what area of the humanities it belongs to: “All Shook Up” is an American rock-and-roll song, written by Otis Blackwell and sung by Elvis Presley, recorded and released in 1957. The song is approximately two minutes long.
You could also describe what the artifact depicts, what it is about: In the song Elvis sings about the symptoms that he is experiencing from being in love and how they affect him physically and mentally when he is both around and away from the woman he is in love with.
|II. Choose elements of the artifact that you believe are most important to how you experience it and explain why. For instance, what particularly catches your senses or makes you want to keep experiencing it? Does the choice of medium impact your experience? [You studied elements of artifacts and how we experience them in Module Two.]||Think about the senses you use to experience the artifact and the attributes that impact your senses: “All Shook Up” is primarily experienced aurally, through sound, by listening to it, as it is a piece of music. Most important are the lead vocals by Elvis, but the guitar, drum set, and piano, along with other instruments, are also important to the sound. The chorus, “I’m in love/I’m all shook up/Mm mm mm, mm, yay, yay, yay” is particularly catchy because of the way it sounds.
Consider the medium of the artifact, the way the medium affects your experience: When the song was released, it was originally a vinyl record, though it could also be heard as sound waves on the radio, and, today it can be experienced as an audio file on a computer. One can also locate video of Elvis performing it live. A person alive in the 1950s could have experienced the song live in person. This would be a different experience since he or she would have been surrounded by a lot of screaming fans. Music can be experienced in a variety of places, either socially (at a bar or diner) or alone, and what is going on around the listener at the time can affect the experience.
Lastly, one can experience the song to some degree as a kind of poetry simply by reading the lyrics.
|III. State your opinion on what you believe is the purpose of this artifact and the success of the creator in achieving the purpose. For instance, what message do you believe the creator is trying to express, and is that message successfully expressed? [You examined this in Module Two.]||“All Shook Up” is intended to present the physical and mental state of being in love, one of the big themes of human existence. However, the main purpose of this song seems to have been to entertain and to earn money for the artists involved and the recording label, RCA. The lyrics of the song are not highly profound, which suggests they are mainly there for the sound. The song is also quite short, suggesting it is meant to be a quick diversion. The song was successful in all of these purposes because it was at the top of a number of popular music charts for a month or more. This could be because it accurately captured the feeling of being in love and was therefore appealing to its audience, because the sound was catchy and danceable, or a combination of these things. Its success made money, and the song has remained well known until today, so its purposes continue to be fulfilled.||[Insert text.]|
|IV. Discuss how the artifact reflects the culture (or context) in which it exists. Be sure to address what aspects of culture have relevance for this artifact: politics, history, religion, social perceptions, technology, media, education, and so on. In other words, how do the artifact and its culture interrelate? [You learned about this in Modules One through Three.]||“All Shook Up” is part of the rock-and-roll revolution that took place in the 1950s and marked new developments in music. Rock and roll is uniquely American as it combines African-American musical influences and country-western and folk. This combination reflected the breaking down of racial barriers in America after World War II, as people migrated to cities from all over the country, and, in fact, the creator of “All Shook Up,” Otis Blackwell, was an African American songwriter, while the song was sung by the white Elvis Presley.
Songs of rock and roll exploded in popularity at this time because young people in the 1950s wanted to rebel against the strictures of the past. After the horrors of World War II, Americans also were looking for a sense of release and fun that was filled by songs like “All Shook Up.”
Technology played a part in the growth of rock and roll too. It has been said that the grinding rhythms of rock reflect the sounds of machinery and automobiles that were part of industrialization in postwar America. The invention of instruments such as the drum set and electric guitar was essential for the sound of “All Shook Up,” and the growth of radio as a medium ensured its promotion to the public.
|V. Use the artifact to discuss how acts of creative expression impact and are impacted by the people and situations that surround it. How might the artifact and the person who created it have impacted each other? For instance, how might the geographic location where the artifact was made, the materials used to create the artifact, the medium of the creative process, or the environment where the artifact is displayed influenced the creator’s life or future creative work? How might the artifact and the culture or context in which it was created have impacted each other? For instance, does the artifact add to the understanding of the culture from which it was created? What contributions does it make to continuing on a dialogue about that culture and the importance of its artifacts? [You looked at these ideas in Module Three.]||Influence of geographic location on the creators: “All Shook Up” was recorded in Hollywood, and the commercial atmosphere there led to the promotion of Elvis as a star. He would appear on TV and in movies and became a celebrity and an American icon. Because of the success of the song, Otis Blackwell was hired to work for Elvis Presley Music in New York City, which contributed to his ability to continue writing influential hit songs.
Impact on the culture in which it was created: “All Shook Up,” as part of rock and roll, contributed to a wide range of cultural changes in the United States and worldwide.
The song was a hit on both the R&B and country charts in America, demonstrating an appeal that crossed racial lines. It has been said that the trans-racial nature of rock and roll helped usher in the Civil Rights Movement.
The song is also overt in its sexuality (“Her lips are like a volcano when it’s hot”), which anticipates the openness of the sexual revolution that would begin in the 1960s.
The words of the song, which emphasize casual speech and slang (“A well’a bless my soul/What’sa wrong with me?/I’m itchin’ like a man in a fuzzy tree”) also helped shape American everyday language.
Its popularity contributed to the growth of popular culture itself and the massive influence of rock and roll on numerous facets of American life, from social behavior to fashion.
Clearly, the example of “All Shook Up” shows that artifacts in the humanities can have a great influence on culture well beyond their own creation as works of artistic value.
|VI. Pose questions you have after thinking deeply about this artifact. What more do you want to know regarding:
a. The relationship between human culture and expression
b. Your personal assumptions about artifacts of this sort and why they exist
c. How your values have shaped and are shaped by your expression and that of others
d. The relationship between the possible intent of the creator and your own interpretation of its meaning [You learned about this in Module Three.]
|What was the culture like when the song was created?
How could the culture have influenced Otis Blackwell?
Why did Otis Blackwell write this song? What might he have been trying to express?
I know that Elvis was popular in the 1950s; why did he choose to sing this song?
How might listening to this song shape the values of listeners in the time that the song was released?
Would the lyrics have the same impact on the values of listeners if the song were released today?
|VII. Speculate on how you would go about answering these questions. For instance, what sorts of things would you study about these kinds of artifacts and their contexts that might begin addressing these questions?||I would do research on the artifact itself and the history of the time. I could find biographies of the creators involved. I might look at newspaper articles from the time and books written on the artifact and the culture that created it. I could also find information on the influence of the artifact since it was created.|