English R1B

Reading & Composition: Hip-hop and American Culture

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
13 Fall 2012 Lee, Seulghee
TTh 3:30-5 221 Wheeler

Book List

Algarin, Miguel et al., eds.: Aloud: Voices from the Nuyorican Poets Cafe; Baraka, Amiri: The LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka Reader; Beatty, Paul: The White Boy Shuffle; Diaz, Junot: Drown; Hoch, Danny: Jails, Hospitals, & Hip-hop/Some People; Mansbach, Adam: Angry Black White Boy; Reed, Ishmael, ed.: From Totems to Hip-hop; Sapphire: Push

Other Readings and Media

Also a course packet including readings by Adam Bradley, Paul Gilroy, Dick Hebdige, Robin D. G. Kelley, Charles Olson, Tricia Rose, and Cornel West; Wayne Booth, et. al, The Craft of Research; Diane Hacker, Rules for Writers.


In a typical college class on hip-hop, you might expect to investigate the history and sociology of this complex cultural movement, beginning in the South Bronx with DJ Kool Herc and the transformation of household appliance into musical instrument. This course aims to do the opposite: beginning by asking how hip-hop matters--or doesn't--in American culture today, we will aim to trace hip-hop's influence on and imbrication with our current lived experience. Is Nas right to claim, as long ago as 2006, that hip-hop is dead? In order to answer this question we will consider thinkers on the black vernacular tradition, on the use of everyday speech in/as poetry, and on what we mean by "culture." Literary figures to explore together include Amiri Baraka, Paul Beatty, Claude Brown, Junot Diaz, Ishmael Reed, and Sapphire. Rap artists we may discuss include Jay-Z, Kanye West, Missy Elliott, The Notorious B.I.G., OutKast, and Tupac Shakur. Along the way , we may also examine non-literary artists such as Dave Chappelle, William Cordova, Savion Glover, Brian Jungen, Spike Lee, and Katt Williams.

We will develop authorial and critical voices of our own in both discussion and writing. In addition to shorter exercises in argumentative and research-based writing, you will turn in two essays, the longer of which will incorporate secondary sources on a research topic of your own design. You will revise both essays, and we will conclude the semester with brief presentations on your research topic.

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