Iron Maiden Song Used In Literature Class

US university professor finds the ultimate way to make classes fun.

Ultimate Guitar

You may not consider an exercise in diagramming sentences as being very metal, but there's a West Texas A&M University professor named Martin Jacobsen that will prove you wrong. The professor has recently managed to successfully fuse metal music and literature classes. And it's not just any metal we're talking about, but the British heavy legends Iron Maiden.

Jacobsen used the "Out Of The Silent Planet" track off their 2000 album "Brave New World" during a class exercise, presenting visual diagrams of lyrics construction with the music playing at the same time. The students' reaction? They loved it, of course. Who wouldn't, right?

"The students were mad for it. They just thought it was crazy and they loved it. I threw it out there just as an offhand comment one day - 'What we ought to do is have a class in heavy metal' - and there was universal agreement from the students in the class, like, 'Yes, we should actually do that.'", the professor tells

The 'metal exercise' was such a hit that Jacobsen is now teaching a new course called Introduction to Literature: Heavy Metal as a Literary Genre. The professor explains that many metal lyricist have been inspired by some of the greatest writers of all time.

"You constantly see these nods to the intellectual tradition that these writers, these lyricists come from. It's connected itself and grounded itself in literary tradition. Therefore it's reasonable to conclude that it is a form of literature as well as a form of music. In much the same way, you might say country music is a species of folklore."

The class has now got all the metalheads flocking into classrooms. 22-year-old student Eric Bauer says that in the metal lyrics domain, everything is possible.

"In the lyrics of heavy metal you can write about anything. Social issues, the human experience, wizards and dragons - if you're interested in a subject, there's probably a heavy metal song about it."

So is this awesome or what? And would you consider taking this metal class, or do you prefer sticking to traditional ones instead? Let us know in the comments section below.

64 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I came into this article expecting Rime of the Ancient Mariner, The Trooper or Murders in the Rue Morgue. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the teacher hadn't gone for the obvious ones.
    The Trooper was based on a Tennyson poem I believe (Charge of The Light Brigade). I thought if anything it was going to be that.
    and in my Satanism class we learned the song Run to the Hills instead of The Number of the Beast
    I'm really not too big on Iron Maiden (please, don't hurt me) overall, but I really dig their lyrics with all that historical content (for an example: Alexander The Great), especially since I'm a maniac for history myself. Kudos to whoever in the band that writes them.
    Steve Harris is the brainchild behind maiden, my friend.
    Agent 00Awesome
    If I'm correct Bruce Dickinson is also a huge history buff. The whole band is just full of intellectual dudes, which is why they give metal such a good name. They completely shatter the meathead metal stereotype.
    Actually, the first time I ever heard Maiden was in my 7th grade English class. We were studying Greek mythology and my teacher played The Flight of Icarus. I remember listening to the solo and thinking, "wow, they're really fast for an old band." Later that day I picked up Seventh Son of a Seventh Son and Iron Maiden is my favorite band of all time.
    Chuck Schuldiner lyrics also deserve a mention imo, he used to write excellent and thoughtful texts without getting too cocky about it.
    I am sure you could do this with almost any genre, you've just got to pick the right songs. Lyrics by bands like Gallows or even Bad Religion would do just the same, along with meaningful and well written pieces by Biggie or Tupac. Just don't go overboard and start picking lesser talented song writers like Lil Wayne or Avril Lavigne.
    I do some similar activities in my high school English classes; good to know that other educators can see the value in rock and metal lyrics. Thus far, I've used Nightwish's "Creek Mary's Blood" and Maiden's "Run to the Hills" to talk about the plight of the Native American, Blind Guardian's "Mordred's Song" to talk about the Arthurian legend, and Rush's "Witch Hunt" as a lead in to The Crucible.
    In my history class we analyzed the Trooper and how the lyrics describe the charge of the Light Brigade in the Crimean War, and in my English class we have analyzed some of Hendrix's lyrics
    Guns N' Chains
    Cool. Yes I would take this class. Sounds more fun than mathematics. I remember back in high school for an English class, the assignment was to take a poem or piece of literature I think from Edgar Allan Poe and compare it to a song or an art piece. You had to provide the song lyrics (or art piece), the poem itself along with a short paper discussing your thoughts. I chose to compare Poe's Annabel Lee to Guns N' Roses November Rain. The teacher thought it was a very cool analogy.
    Too many studies can use maiden. Literature is rime, brave new world. History is practically the entire powerslave album, and literally every war song they've written (at least 20 songs right there)
    Thanks to Rime of the ancient mariner I got a great start in my English class. Basically the class had to remember a few lines from the poem and say them to the teacher. I used the lines that came from the song...pretty easy.
    I'm doing Coleridge for my A-Level english lit, and i managed to quote the actual section used in the song "four times fifty men..." etc and my teacher was shocked and asked how i knew that having never read the complete poem before, I replied by just saying Iron Maiden
    my social studies teacher did this once! We were lerning about american history and we were given lyric sheets to the song and listened to it. Not a big fan but it was pretty great lol
    That is so awesome! I was inspired to play music because of my Art History professor. He used Metallica's "One" to analyze lyrics and how it applied to art. He also used "Eleanor Rigby" by The Beatles. It was amazing.
    My English teacher recited Fear of the Dark as introduction to new lesson called Fears
    Mr. Jacobsen, my hat is off for you. Would love to attend one of his classes.
    Great news, hopefully this kind of thing takes off in other universities. Metal has always been one of the more "cultured" genres out there. It just gets a bad rap because of certain kinds of fans who really do go overboard.
    I was expecting a crappy article about some student using lyrics in an assignment, which would be followed by me ranting about that if I publicly announced every time I aced a paper with the influence of music, I'd be famous. But then I realized it's about the teacher using the lyrics as a lesson, which is completely awesome. I would have loved if the general population of my school wasn't completely unappreciative of good music, because several of my teachers would have been able to take advantage of such learning tools...
    After reading the headline I was sure it was going to be 'Rime of the Ancient Mariner' for a poetry class
    But if you want true historical accuracy, you need Europe's "Cherokee."....Just kidding.
    Was seriously expecting The Trooper to be used to talk about the charge of the light brigade.
    I actually have read books based off of the fact that I liked songs inspired by them. It's really cool to see what they're interested in and it has lead to me to read some great books. Because of Iron Maiden, I have read Brave New World and Stranger in a Strange Land. Metallica got me to read short stories by HP Lovecraft and For Whom the Bell Tolls. The list goes on.
    I've taught British Lit for years and have used Maiden in a number of ways. It's brilliant.
    In high school, my history teacher put up the lyrics of "Aces High" when talking about WW2
    Don't Ask
    Heh. Reminds me of that my father (who teaches economics at the university) once used the sales of a Totalt jvla mrker-record (Totalt jvla mrker is a Swedish hardcore punk band with black metal traits, the name means "total ****ing darkness") to explain some correlation or other.
    You could probably do a course on Neil Peart's lyrics and inspirations alone, and I don't doubt other writers could do something similar. It'd be a fun course.
    The first thing that popped into my mind was, "Murder In The Rue Morgue." The Edgar Allen Poe story.
    Insomnium lyrics should be studied in literature classes, by far some of the most beautiful lyrics I've ever come across. For example, At the Gates of Sleep, Killjoy, Since the Day it All Came Down, At the Groves of Death...All of them, really.
    I always had to learn using rap songs.. ^ Similar story above though, in high school my teacher briefly mentioned Iron Maiden's Flight of Icarus.
    In Moscow State University there is a course called Rock Poetry at the Philological Department and they study lyrics of different genres. Important thing is that this course is not obligatory.
    Cool, but old news. My senior year in college, in my senior seminar in British Literature: Revolutionary Romantics, I did my thesis on "Rime of the Ancient Mariner," examining it parallel to Coleridge's poem - the professor wsa cool with it. Still, it's nice to see others catching on.
    well you didn't really make any headlines did you? so it's new news.
    Don't get me wrong i love Maiden but 90% of heavy metal lyrics are bad and Cringe worthy. It'd be better for them to be studying the beatles/Bob Dylan/Neil Young etc but whatever floats your boat i guess
    Just one thing;-Proud to listen and playing metal!! Maiden (Dickinson, Smith, Harris solo projects and all the stuff related to them) is my number one music in the world, for almost 30 years
    I did a shout-out to "The Trooper" when we were discussing about "The Charge of the Light Brigade" in my European History class. Luckily my teacher got the reference!
    I tried a similar approach with my middle school students on history and all. Little bastards would rather listen to lame-a$$ rap tunes about slapping a woman around and calling her a ho. Good to see there are still intellectual people on the outside.
    Blah at my university Romantic literature course we had Iron Maiden's Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner lyrics discussed in class when we did the original version of the poem : You haven't really invented hot water with this... :