Date on Honors Thesis

Fall 11-6-2020


English Education, Secondary Certification

Examining Committee Member

Andrew Black, PhD, Committee Member

Examining Committee Member

Julie Cyzewski, PhD, Committee Member

Examining Committee Member

William Jones, PhD, Committee Member


In my senior thesis, I will be analyzing and comparing early modern literature and contemporary popular music in order to follow the development of women’s ability to gain power. Throughout history, there has been an ongoing struggle for women’s equity in education, publishing, and socially acceptable actions. Though the connection between literature and pop music is unordinary, there are major connections that show a consistent female struggle - the inability to voice one’s true feelings due to the reaction of an educated man or an unchanging society. Overall, the response of female characters, authors, and artists is to show their power by responding to unequal claims concerning their abilities and their right to say how they truly feel; this is a crucial aspect of my research that shows the connection between early modern literature and pop music. My thesis will focus on literary works such as Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, Phillips’s “Thoughts on Marriage,” and Swift’s “The Lady’s Dressing Room.” Because opportunities for women to publish their writing were limited due to social constructs of early literary periods, discussions of women’s abilities or opinions often came from the mind of a man. This became problematic as skewed opinions were shared based on bias and antifeminist ideals. Once women were being published more often, the outcry of truly feminine-based thoughts concerning power were known. In addition to early modern literature, I will be focusing on 2000s/2010s popular music artists including Ariana Grande and Taylor Swift. While analyzing lyrics that show direct relation to real-life experiences where these female artists respond to a situation by taking power over it, I will also be exploring problematic actions seen within pop culture that show the objectification and power-hungry wolves that have tried to belittle these women. Connecting these ongoing experiences of women gaining power over a society or man that has tried to hold them back over several centuries brings a new kind of light onto an ever-present struggle.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.