Volume 19 Number 4 February 10, 2018

Cross-Curricular Teaching Going Forward: A View from “Strange Fruit”

José-María Esteve-Faubel
University of Alicante, Spain

Tania Josephine Martin
University of Alicante, Spain

Mary Ellen Junda
University of Connecticut, USA

Citation: Esteve-Faubel, J-M., Martin, T. J., & Junda, M. E. (2018). Cross-curricular teaching going forward: A view from “Strange Fruit”. International Journal of Education & the Arts, 19(4). Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.18113/P8ijea1904


“Strange Fruit”, a song popularized by Billie Holiday in 1939, paints a gruesome picture of racial violence suffered by former African-American slaves following Reconstruction, 1863-1877 (Foner, 2011). While many scholars have analyzed the lyrics of “Strange Fruit”, research that focuses on young people’s reaction to the song is scarce. This study explores the impact of Holiday’s performance of the song on students at a New England Research University. Institutional survey software was used to create an online questionnaire that participants (n= 40) answered in a controlled environment. The findings indicate feelings of disgust, anger, shame and sadness after participants listened to “Strange Fruit”. Although few students could indicate the song’s time-period, many recognized the atrocities committed against African-Americans since slavery and the discrimination that continues. “Strange Fruit”, irrespective of whether the participants knew the background of the song, provokes a powerful reaction against racial violence, one which demonstrates the song’s value as a cross-curricular pedagogical tool for developing transversal competences linked to socially desirable values and principles.

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