Eye of the Tiger Roar: Intertextuality & Katy Perry

In the Common Core Standards, students in fourth grade and higher are expected to “Compare and contrast the treatment of similar themes and topics (e.g., opposition of good and evil) and patterns of events (e.g., the quest) in stories, myths, and traditional literature from different cultures.”  This is a lot different from the “find one similarity and two differences” that has been the expectation up to now.

To help my students compare and contrast themes presented in multiple texts I have come up with this lesson addressing intertextuality using Katy Perry’s new song “Roar.”

intertextuality photo 1


Introduce students to the meaning of intertextuality and provide them with a few  examples.


Katy Perry’s music video Roar:

Survivor’s music video for Eye of the Tiger:

Queen’s music video for We Are the Champions:


  1. First, play for the student the Katy Perry Video Roar and ask the students what the song is about.  Ask the students what the line “eye of the tiger” means in Perry’s song and if they have heard the saying before.
  2. Show students Survivor’s 1980s music video Eye of the Tiger.  Ask students, “How does this video inform your understanding of Katy Perry’s song Roar?  In what ways does this song change your understanding of Katy Perry’s song? “
  3. Tell the students that intertextuality is when a text ‘s meaning (story, book, article, song, video, movie) is influenced by another text.  Intertextual references can be subtle or obvious.  The key idea is that these intertexual references allow for a deeper understanding of the text.  Katy Perry’s music is a great example because she references so much music history in her songs – from Radiohead to Johnny Cash.
  4. Next show the students Queen’s video We are the Champions and ask students the connections between the previous songs.  “What are the messages all three of these artists trying to communicate?” Tell students, “Intertextual thinking can also be looking at patterns of events across stories, or looking at how authors have chosen to convey ideas about the same topic in different ways.”
  5. Break students up into small groups and have them look at the lyrics of all three songs to look across the texts for commonalities and reoccurring patterns. Students can share their findings with the large class after 6-8 minutes of small group discussion.

intertextual photo 3

intertextuality photo 2

Additional Thoughts About Intertextuality:

Charles Bazerman of University of California Santa Barbara writes,  “We create our texts out of the sea of former texts that surround us, the sea of language we live in.  And we understand the texts of others within that same sea. Sometimes as writers we want to point to where we got those words from and sometime we don’t. Nonetheless, the sea of words always surrounds every text.  The relation each text has to the texts surrounding it, we call intertextuality.”

We want our students to be able to make connections among texts so they are able to understand the jokes and parody involved with television shows like The Simpsons, Family Guy, and Regular Show. Students also need to decipher intertextuality so they might understand the components across texts and identify bigger themes communicated in the stories we read.

For a copy of the intertextuality interactive notebook file and lesson plan you see in the pictures above click here.

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4 thoughts on “Eye of the Tiger Roar: Intertextuality & Katy Perry

  1. Ed Watts says:

    excellent appreciation for the teaching of children in a modern and relatable context – well done.

  2. Abena Bailey says:

    What grade level did you use this with? Thanks for sharing your resources.

    • I teach 8th graders. I have been teaching rock and roll history to 7th and 8th graders for the past 10 years. Intertextuality is beneficial to teach in middle school because once you talk about it, students pick up on other references/allusions in popular culture as well as literature.

  3. Sam Diener says:

    I love this. One thing I didn’t see here that I hoped to, in a post about teaching Roar, is that it’s a feminist response to Survivor and Queen – and an explicit shout out to Helen Reddy early 70s anthem, “I am Woman,” and its opening line, “I am woman. Hear me roar.” (see https://genius.com/Helen-reddy-i-am-woman-lyrics). One might also reference Aretha Franklin’s cover of RESPECT. From here, you could share some of the early 1970s feminist statements, for example those contained in Robin Morgan’s collection, Sisterhood is Powerful. Then, you can illustrate the intertextuality between the songs and a feminist essay.

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