Ideas on how to structure an assignment on Regina's work

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hello! i have been lurking through this website for a couple of weeks and only now signed up. 

for school, I have to write an extended essay (EE) which is basically me writing up to 4,000 words about any topic of my choosing.

I chose Regina as my general topic. Since my EE will fall under the subject/course of "English" (which im studying as a second language), i thought of analyzing her songs or overall work based on four-ish approaches:

1) Literary references (example The Twelve Chairs by Ilf and Petrov in wasteside)

3) rhetorical devices (example personification in "The world's got a nosebleed"

3) Influence of a being born in russia but growing up in the bronx and having to learn english / bicultural childhood (i cant really think of concrete exampels here so i think i would rely on this too much)

4) phonetic quirks/ her weird ways of pronouncing/saying some stuff (like the br-eak in prisoners, or the gasp in reading time with pickle)

im still not sure whether this will work. i had to select a sort of corpus to work with, and i thought of choosing the album Songs, but then a lot of songs with very "analyze-able" content would be left out (like marry ann). 

I think instead, i should choose one specific topic (for example, something like "her view on sexuality" or "the ordinary as extraordinary") and work from there to see which songs i can use for that.

can anyone help me think of themes that are overreaching in her work, found throughtou many albums and songs?? i am sort of entering into a crisis because of time pressures and the like. thank you to anyone who can possibly help !!!!!

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Hi Catalina,

First of all, breathe in and breathe out. Don't stress too much, this sounds like a fun assignment and you've already given it a lot of thought! Regina's music has been so important for me in getting acquainted with the English language, and I always enjoyed using examples from her work in assignments for high school/university. So I hope I can help you with this..

About the corpus: You mentioned both Songs and the song Mary Ann, so then I have to mention that Regina released a compilation CD at some point that is called Mary Ann Meets The Gravediggers And Other Short Stories. Which contains some songs from Songs (Oedipus, Prisoners, Consequence of Sounds, Daniel Cowman, Lacrimosa) but also some from 11:11 (including Mary Ann) and Soviet Kitsch.

I've been thinking about overarching themes and the first thing I thought about was capitalism and money. I think it comes back in many of her songs, including: Small Bill$, Trapper and the Furrier, Hotel Song ('a smile I've bought with a couple of gold coins'), Chemo Limo, Back of a Truck ( there's a back of a truck selling smoke free lungs / There's a back of a truck selling alien pods / There's a back of a truck selling game show hosts / There's a back of a truck selling the souls of the dead/ There's a back of a truck selling crumb free bread' etc. until they're even selling the back of someone's head!), Mermaid, Sellers of Flowers ('who's the winner? not the roses, not the sellers, not the buyers'), Scarecrow and Fungus ('he's got enough money to buy a new father'). And I can go on and on (and am tempted to keep going haha). And perhaps you could link this to her perspective of someone who moved from Russia to the US, a country of abudance where you could buy almost anything?

Just my two cents, hope it's of some use for you, and if I can think of other themes I'll write an update :P

I do think picking a specific topic or overarching theme will make it easier for you to structure the text. Like: Regina Spektor makes ordinary everyday things extraordinary in her songs, and here are three ways in which she does it (E.g. because rhetorical devices or vocal quirks make you think of a word or expression differently, or because the songs put a spin on familiar situations by highlighting new aspects).

Good luck!

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