Analysing Articles

Examining Opposing Viewpoints

Interpreting Folk Songs in History

Interpreting Cartoons

Responding Personally to Historical Information

Preparing to Conduct an Interview

Listening with Discrimination

Generalizing from Historical Data

Analysing Cause and Effect

Interpreting Folk Songs in History

People who experience an important historical event may express their views or perspectives in the form of folk songs. Such songs may be simple, but historians often find them a rich source of information about how people felt, and how they expressed their feelings and opinions.

Because feelings ran high during the confederation debate, it is not surprising that events, issues, and opinions were expressed in song. On April 5, 1948, The Independent carried the "Hero of '48". The Confederate carried the "Battle Song of Newfoundland" on May 12, 1948.

People who feel strongly about an issue use a variety of techniques to convince the listener of the superiority of their viewpoint. Some techniques will rely on honest, reasonable arguments; others may distract the reader from the real issues. Some techniques include:

Bandwagon
Everyone is doing this or agrees with this position.
Categorical statements
These statements are presented as if they are absolutely true and not debatable.
Deductive reasoning
Since two statements are true, then the third statement is true (e.g., if a and b are true, then c is true). If there is no connection between the statements, then this technique is flawed.
Personal attack
A statement may attack an individual personally rather than challenge his or her ideas.
Testimonial
A statement that refers to a famous person or group in order to support a position or opinion.

The following exercises will help you to find evidence of these tactics in "The Hero of '48" and the "Battle Song of Newfoundland", an
anti-confederate and a pro-confederate song respectively.

Exercises:

  1. a) The Hero of '48"
    Find an example of each of the following:
    • personal attack
    • testimonial
    • categorical statement
    • deductive reasoning
    b) In this song, what use is made of stereotyping?
  2. a) "Battle Song of Newfoundland"
    • In verses one, three, five and eight, identify the techniques used to support the arguments.
    b) Why is personification used extensively in this song?



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