October 27, 2009

"[W]hat is hip-hop studies, and what would a hip-hop studies program offer that is not already available on campus?"

The debate here on campus.
Katrina Flores, arts and education director for First Wave, a student organization that focuses on involving students in hip-hop culture on campus, said hip-hop studies allows for an interdisciplinary connection between departments because students can study hip-hop from a sociological, anthropological or scientific perspective.

“You can’t just come in and study somebody’s culture. You have to live it, you have to breathe it and you have to be doing it,” she said.

Flores added that she is currently working with the UW-Madison physics department to encourage them to do more interdisciplinary research between science and culture.

“I struggled with physics ... but if it can relate to my world and if we can be interdisciplinary in that way then there are so many more possibilities for engagement,” she said.
Maybe you should struggle with physics. Think about it: If the physics teachers on their own had decided to meld hip-hop with their classroom presentation on the theory that it would make it more accessible to you, you would have — or should have — felt insulted and outraged. And yet you want to make them do it to you.
Gethsemane Herron, a UW-Madison freshman, said she does not see why UW-Madison wouldn’t have a hip-hop studies program, highlighting its importance in today’s society.

“How can we ignore something that has permeated American culture,” Merron said. “I feel like to not have hip-hop studies is to offer an incomplete education.”
So what is it? The answer, Ms. Herron (Merron?), is precisely that pop culture permeates the world of young Americans. Why pursue even more of it in college? Learn new things. Get what you can't get just living in the world soaking up the things you naturally love and enjoy. What is the point of going to college?

86 comments:

Hoosier Daddy said...

"[W]hat is hip-hop studies, and what would a hip-hop studies program offer that is not already available on campus?"

Glad to see higher education is staying on the cutting edge.

It's bullshit curriculum like this that reinforces my belief that the dollars funneled into education may as well be used as ass wipe. At least it would serve a more useful function.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Maybe you should struggle with physics. Think about it: If the physics teachers on their own had decided to meld hip-hop with their classroom presentation on the theory that it would make it more accessible to you, you would have — or should have — felt insulted and outraged.

How, pray tell does one meld hip hop with physics? Does the professor don a do rag, wear his pants around his knees and rap the lecture?

Pogo said...

Difficult material is racist.

Physics equations further white male hegemony.

What Einstein never realized was that E=mc(2) could be so much more if understood in a spoken rhyme set to a bass-heavy groove and expressed in a transiently popular dance move.

Hip-Hop Studies promises to deliver the kind of groundbreaking work done by Queer Studies and Vagina Conferences, which have almost freed us from the shackles of the white man's "science".

Four years of Hip-Hop Studies seems to me a magic key for the bearer when future employers see this on their resume'.

lucid said...

This is nothing but a way to create an affirmative action undergardauate major for black students. The poison of affirmtive action is corrupting and undercutting the place of African-Americans in our culture and society. It confers a temporary entitlement and privleged position in a way that corrupts the standards and expectations that are essential to shared and equal participation with other Americans.

Peter V. Bella said...

Hip hop? Hip hop culture? There is no such thing as hip hop culture. The correct term would be ghetto gang banger culture or criminal sub-culture. Looks like some mook found a way to make herself a buck.

Will there be a demand from the hip hop nation for Federal funding? Maybe next the hip hop nation with all their culture can have their own reservation and open a hip hop casino and l;ive tax free.

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

So ... how many college football and basketball players does it take to change a light bulb ?

Just one, but he wants 5 credits for it.

Michael Hasenstab said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Crack Emcee said...

What is the point of going to college?

Clearly it's beats and breaks.

traditionalguy said...

Another effort to demand recognition for the great skill of being alive and goofing off. The question is will an adult dare to say no.

Pogo said...

Can Onanism Studies be far behind?
Clearly a popular field, with a history dating back thousands of years.

How can we ignore something that has permeated American culture? Not to have masturbation studies is to offer an incomplete education.

AllenS said...

I'd like to ax Mr. Damon Williams a question, but he probably wouldn't have the time to answer, with all the hip hopin' going on.

Shanna said...

So, she wants schools to go about further devaluing the bachelors degree? Good plan.

Hip-hop physics? I'm just really confused what that would be about. If you don't like physics, you don't have to take it, so why does she care?

Maguro said...

This should help the Wisconsin football team recruit some elite student-athletes who might otherwise attend Ohio State to major in underwater basket-weaving.

AJ Lynch said...

Gethsemane as a first name. That is a first to me.

wv = bitteciv = please be civil dumkopf!

Original Mike said...

How, pray tell does one meld hip hop with physics?

Oh, I could see lesson plans like "Gravity's effect on projectiles" and "Why we fall down".

Henry said...

students can study hip-hop from a sociological, anthropological or scientific perspective.

Well, shit, how about studying hip-hop from a musical perspective?

I've been impressed a number of times by the deep technical and audio engineering knowledge of various musician friends -- especially those that do recording and producing. Most of them didn't study it in college.

Shanna said...

Oh, I could see lesson plans like "Gravity's effect on projectiles" and "Why we fall down".

I guess there is a pretty obvious joke in there about pants falling down.

Shanna said...

Well, shit, how about studying hip-hop from a musical perspective?

Because music theory, percussion and such are actually hard, almost like math? That would defeat the purpose of an easy A class.

Original Mike said...

I guess there is a pretty obvious joke in there about pants falling down.

We seem to have gravity covered.

I'm afraid quantum mechanics is going to be a stretch, however.

Peter V. Bella said...

Next- Jump Rope Studies as a multi-disciplinary course of the Young Feminist Rope Jumping Culture.

Michael said...

Well, I suppose it would be useful to have a sense of how many times one could use the MF phrase in connection with any or every thing.
You see what I'm saying? Like, these motherfucking books are too long. Or motherfucker!! look at this motherfucking shit!! Or what this motherfucker talking about? But put some rhymes in there.

I have long supported the idea that students be given a diploma the day they enter college (after paying for it, of course). Then they could beat it and leave the campus to those who would actually be interested in getting an education. Those who remained and actually took and passed actual courses would be refunded their tuition.

raf said...

@Pogo
Actually, if you consult original texts, you will see that "onanism" refers more to "coitus interruptus" than to masterbation. Clearly, "onanism studies" could provide a significant contribution toward better understanding of this vital cultural theme. You deserve full credit for the concept and should get your grant application underway immediately.

save_the_rustbelt said...

Well, I guess studying accounting is too much work, so, why not study something useless?

William said...

The future of civilization hinges on our ability to keep the physics majors away from the hip hop culture. I don't want nobody busting a neutron bomb cap in my ass.

AJ Lynch said...

Peter:

I wished I could have majored in "Jump rope studies" with a minor in hopscotch! LOL.

Will Cate said...

Students who major in anything with the word "Studies" in the title are wasting their parents' money (or their own, or the government's)

Joan said...

Gethsemane as a first name. That is a first to me.

That struck me, also. I wonder if it's her (his?) given name, or if she took it for herself in an attempt to be all post-modern and cool. Does she hang out with her friends Auschwitz and Gulag on the weekends?

I agree with Michael H., a course in hip-hop would be fine, but a major would really be stretching it - unless, of course, you can already major in classical music, rock and roll, or jazz. My impression is that you don't actually major in category of music, but in music itself. I know a young woman pursuing her fine arts degree in piano performance, and the math is killing her.

Michael said...

So what do the professors and departments of hiphop do ten years from now when hiphop is old news? Are there departments of disco and prog rock going begging for support and attention now? "Morton Feingold, the John Bonham Professor of Percussion at the Lynyrd Skynyrd School, said..."

Rialby said...

Imagine being an Iowa resident who is so proud to have your child go to UW-Madison. Thankfully it only costs $35,000 a year in tuition plus expenses to go. $140,000 for hip-hop classes. Awesome.

For the record, I went to a very highly rated state school in another state and there was a class on AIDS (this was the early 90s) wherein the teacher decided to show gay fisting videos to the students.

technogypsy said...

UW Madison also is the place where someone taught classes on race and gender in chemistry. So it's in the tradition.

WV=necepsi - using pepsi to reduce work place injuries

Balfegor said...

So what is it? The answer, Ms. Herron (Merron?) is precisely that pop culture permeates the world of young Americans. Why pursue even more of it in college?

Well, you could learn different things about it. I grew up surrounded by English-language literature (mostly British), but that doesn't mean that I couldn't benefit from classes on Shakespeare or Victorian writers. What's distinctive about classes on Shakespeare or the Victorians, though, is that the professor will teach the works critically -- that is to say, they will (hopefully) teach the students to love and appreciate the language and the construction of the literary works, but also teach them to step back and think more critically about the role and function of the work in society. Sometimes this is merely banal (they're all "dead white males," male privilege, blah blah blah). But that critical distance can also enrich our understanding of this or that work.

The problem with "hip-hop studies," like with "womens studies" or "African American studies" or any of these newfangled fields, is that the participants in the field don't really seem to have that critical distance. As a result, too much of what comes out of them is hagiography, rather than scholarship, mixed with vituperative criticism of outsiders.

So essentially, I don't have a problem with their trying to study hip-hop per se (although I think it's silly to create an entire "hip hop studies" thing) -- it just won't be particularly enlightening to their students, unless they're willing to adopt a critical distance and challenge the underlying work aggressively.

El Rider said...

As the great Hip-Hop philosopher Snoop Dog's "father" once said (in the video for Gin and Juice) - "Snoop Doggy Dog you need a jobby job!"

And good luck with a degree in Hip-Hop studies, a degree that would qualify one for a position in the declining record store industry and the burgeoning fast food industry.

BarryD said...

For the record, I went to a very highly rated state school in another state and there was a class on AIDS (this was the early 90s) wherein the teacher decided to show gay fisting videos to the students.

Perhaps some students didn't have the ability to imagine anything for themselves without seeing an image of it first. TV culture, you know.

Of course, that does make one question whether they should be in college in the first place...

lglz701 said...

Damn straight, Pogo!

All of a sudden, I feel that my life was wasted studying engineering, business, and law at institutions of higher learning. These are merely "trade degrees," like English Literature and Anthropology.

A racist curriculum does nothing to expand the cultural horizons and creativity of today's young people. Abolish the Schools of Engineering, Business, and Science. Keep Law. There is always room for fools there.

BarryD said...

A serious question I have: what is the future of hip-hop, anyway? Isn't it pretty much played out?

The latest hipster trend on campus seems to be Joey Ramone "skinny pants" and '70s canvas tennis shoes. Takes me back, actually...

I don't see hip-hop being "relevant" much longer. Frankly, I'm surprised it's still around, given that it's so formulaic. There's little room for real organic culture within it, IMO, and its leading lights are eminently uninteresting people. This generally leads to pop-culture burnout, and the rapid development of a replacement.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Next- Jump Rope Studies as a multi-disciplinary course of the Young Feminist Rope Jumping Culture


Dang!!! I could have gotten an 'A' in Double Dutch then instead of taking economic classes and actually studying.

Actually, we used to do this activity for girls physical education in high school. We loved it.

I haven't thought about it in years. :-) Jump rope, not just for skinny chicks. What fun.

So, when hiring someone who holds a B.A. you need to seriously question their actual qualifications, I suppose. Nothing taken for granted anymore.

Richard Dolan said...

It might well be possible to design a course of study about hip-hop that would make sense in a college curriculum. The problem is that these things never turn out that way -- they're not about looking seriously at the subject, and become just a way to wallow pointlessly in it for a while.

vw: dulnese. Yes, indeed. Even the kids would figure that out eventually.

Richard said...

I can see a hiphop class taught as a dance class for a Phys Ed credit (does Wisconsin have a PE requirement? Schools in the Big Ten are split on that). I can see it for a music class as outlined above- and I'd point out that the rhythms used in hiphop would make the math even harder than it would be for other forms of music.

But I agree wholeheartedly with Ann on this one - the point to college is learning something new. You can't go 10 feet on a college campus these days without already hearing hiphop or seeing people dance to it. At what point does the value of a college credit - and the resulting degree - become so watered down with "majoring in Game Boy" that you've basically inflated the Bachelor's Degree into nothing?

WV: veriod. The last letter of a verification sequence.

TMink said...

"“I struggled with physics ... but if it can relate to my world and if we can be interdisciplinary in that way then there are so many more possibilities for engagement,” she said."

Oh, physics is obviously racist.

Trey
wv = terso - latin for one who tends to make short, pithy posts

sonicfrog said...

“How can we ignore something that has permeated American culture,” Merron said. “I feel like to not have hip-hop studies is to offer an incomplete education.

How 'bout maybe taking an English class or two. Might prove useful.

And you wonder why we have to import so many scientist and doctors from other countries, and why there is a lack of scientific understanding in the US.

Brian McKim & Traci Skene said...

I picked up a copy of the Wheeling WV paper on the way to a gig in Lima, OH, and saw a small obit for the man who "invented" pop culture studies. (It grabbed my attention because he taught at Bowling Green State University, where I studied journalism for three years in the '70s.)

That man was responsible for more football players attaining college degrees than any other man on earth. Pop culture became the "basket weaving" of the new era.

bagoh20 said...

"Learn new things. Get what you can't get just living in the world soaking up the things you naturally love and enjoy. What is the point of going to college?"

A true balance in higher education would be an over emphasis on conservative ideas to balance out the cultural left bias. That would produce better, smarter people.

I don't understand why people pay 6 figure amounts for a 4 year college education, which in most cases, gives you little more than the ability to get a job in a corporation. Do people really do all that work and spend all that money just to get that?

I think it makes more sense to get your education from the Internet, and books where everything taught by professors' assistants is available virtually free. Then augment that with work and business experience by using that money to start a business, fail, and start another one. This is much more likely to result in a fulfilling and wealthy life. You are guaranteed the top spot in a company. Finding keg parties my be a little more difficult, but your liver will thank you.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

I struggled with physics ... but if it can relate to my world...

Physics is the ultimate study of what is. It has no need to relate to you. You need to relate to it.

PatCA said...

Of course they will get their major. To deny them would be racist. Mau-mau-ing the flak catchers is as successful as over.

Cheng-Jih said...

Hip hop physics: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j50ZssEojtM

Fancy, high-end physics, for that matter. Not sure if it's fancy, high-end hip hop, though.

Zach said...

“You can’t just come in and study somebody’s culture. You have to live it, you have to breathe it and you have to be doing it,” she said.

Flores added that she is currently working with the UW-Madison physics department to encourage them to do more interdisciplinary research between science and culture.


What would a physicist have to say about hip hop that anybody would care to hear?

Tman said...

We've already seen what happens when physics and hip-hop are combined and the results are disastrous.

Yo! LHC RAPS!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j50ZssEojtM

Please, for the sake of both areas, STOP THE MADNESS!!!

Tman said...

Cheng-Jih beat me to it. I'm surprised that it took this long for someone else to mention it.

RebeccaH said...

This is the most ridiculous thing I've seen come out of academics yet, and that's saying a lot. Why put in place a field of study that's going to become old-fashioned and uncool with the next generation of students? It's like saying universities of a generation ago should have incorporated disco studies, or heavy metal studies.

It's just more of the dumbing of America.

Kim said...

"...but if it can relate to my world and if we can be interdisciplinary in that way then there are so many more possibilities for engagement."

And in that single sentence, you have a wonderful encapsulation of all that's wrong with education today.

1. Self-centeredness: "relate to my world" -- unless I think it's relevant, it's worthless.

2. Academic claptrap: "interdisciplinary" -- an easy way out for a mediocre academic to gloss over their own shallow experience.

3. PoMospeak: "engagement" -- rather than, oh, education, where the professor imparts knowledge and wisdom to the student (a model which worked for centuries, before being put aside by the post-modernists).

Both my college-student kids just laugh at crap like this. More than once, they've dropped a class, despite the high grades they're earning, because "I'm not learning anything, it's all just process and feelgood pablum -- bullshit."

And they're both Dean's list students, but they even question the value of that.

El Presidente said...

I love it when white folks reveal that they aren't as smart as they think they are. Even better when there is just a tinge of racial superiority involved.

I'm pretty sure you could teach a class on classical physics using Hip Hop dancing for every example and to show every formula. Linear Motion, Vectors, Projectiles, Newton's Laws (1-3), Momentum, Energy and Gravitational forces, it's all in there. That was first semester of physics for engineers.

jr565 said...

You know what's missing in college these days? World of warcraft "Studies". And just to maintain diversity, that program can also include stuff like Middle earth online and Second Life as well. Students can learn all about pwnage, not to mention the history of the online gaming experience.
Money well spent I assure you.

TMink said...

jr565 you racist. Everquest II is important to me. I never played WoW or those other games. College should relate to me. Hell, the universe should.

Trey
wv=corpria a stiff corpse

AJ Lynch said...

And people complain about the cost of college? This is priceless!


wv = ferpar = heard from a golf announcer with Southern roots

Quasimodo said...

They should teach the hip-pity hop-pity culture thingie out of the wyman's studies department. Then they can celebrate the up lifting and affirming message inherent in the lyrics to all our inner B***hes and W****s.

The brilliant professors in the wyman's studies department should have no trouble doubling as physics professors and end male hegemony in that field.

Alex said...

Waiting for LE Lee to pop in here with more accusations of pandering to Althouse hillbillies.

Joe M. said...

"What is the point of going to college?"

Clearly, it is to get drunk, sleep around, and skip class.

rastajenk said...

It's like, you know, I be gettin' a major in hip hop, 'n', you know, I be getting a majorette in eubonics. :-)

Hoosier Daddy said...

I love it when white folks reveal that they aren't as smart as they think they are. Even better when there is just a tinge of racial superiority involved.

I think white kids with oversized baseball hats cocked to the side with thier pants around their knees look pretty stupid too.

From Inwood said...

I can see it now

Anthropology 101: Margaret Meade Professor of Coming Of Hip Hop Age in Madison

Wait, I also see

Eng Lit, Hip Hop 101

Course Description:

Hip Hop Does More Then Physics can
To Justify Ghetto to The Man

C4's contribution:

Hip Hop History 101: The Influence of Jewish Traditional Dance on Hip Hop.

Dewave said...

They are trying to create courses and degrees out of what are essentially leisure pursuits, interests and hobbies.

That is wholly inappropriate for a center of higher learning. You aren't equipping students to face the world, you are indulging them in learning nothing beyond what they would normally seek out and engage in.

It also explains why students are increasingly graduating with massive debt and no real work skills.

What kind of job is a program in 'hip-hop studies' going to prepare you for?

If the argument is we need hip-hop studies because it pervades popular culture, why not a family guy studies, or harry potter studies, or star trek studies?

Alex said...

Dewave - how do we know Obama won't include "hip hop careers" in the next stimulus package? Anything is possible ya know!

Balfegor said...

They are trying to create courses and degrees out of what are essentially leisure pursuits, interests and hobbies.

Well, sure, but we lost that fight once people started majoring in musical performance and fine arts. That's not even the study or the history of music or fine arts -- that's playing violin and painting pictures. And I think that's perfectly legitimate, as it happens -- I spent many happy hours in useless painting and drawing classes my senior year of college, after I had finished all my major requirements.

But if that's legitimate, it becomes harder to argue that the study (not even the practice) of hip-hop is inappropriate for the academy. On the other hand, the fact that it may be worthwhile to engage in a scholarly study of hip-hop doesn't therefore mean that you should have a cross-disciplinary field called "hip-hop studies." Because that's just silly. And mixing physics and hip-hop is similarly silly -- it may help to popularise physics, I suppose, but that's just like "physics for poets."

From Inwood said...

"more THAN physics can

From Inwood said...

Balgefor

Of course you're right. we're already there.

Hey, how about "Ann Althouse, Kanye West Professor of Hip-Hop Law"

Hip Hop Law 101: The New Hip-Hop Advocacy: Constructs, Strategies and Tactics."

Course Description:


" 'Hate it or love it, the underdog's on top’. The recent pronounced shifts in American politics and economics intensify the need for sustained reflection, as we consider how to shape legal activism, scholarship, and policy-making through Hip Hop. The re-emergence of the Democratic Party in national politics and the renewed support for government action simultaneously create openings for Hip Hop activists and advocates to sing out & . Similarly, the failures of the American banking system, massive government deficits, the continued restructuring and globalization of the U.S. economy, & the Big Band era cause great misery for those at the bottom and present opportunities to press for fundamental and progressive reform through Hip Hop. It remains unclear whether this period is one in which power will be redistributed downward and outward to poor and working people or whether the defining values and hierarchies of the political economy in the last thirty years – variously labeled neo-liberalism, neo-conservatism, or free market fundamentalism – will be reinforced.

We engage in fact finding, legal analysis, policy research, convening, and consensus building. We train new generations of law students and fellows to continue the important Hip Hop social justice work championed by Kanye West. We acknowledge that there exist many gray areas, however, in Hip Hop & Rap but that these artists sing Truth to Power. Individuals such as Kanye West, Jay-Z, Nas, and Missy Elliot, as well as groups like The Fugees and OutKast will visit during the semester, subject to parole regulations.

Requirements: The ability to use imperfect rhymes, assonance, consonance, dissonance, & slant rhyme for The White Man's alleged true rhymes.

Youngblood said...

Hip hop has been around for about thirty years, and throughout the entirety of its history it has been, fairly objectively, a vibrant cultural force. Really, there's probably no cultural innovation in the forty years that has had as much influence.

Hip hop is definitely worthy of academic study, there's little doubt about that. I suspect that the UW-Madison "hip-hop studies" multi-disciplinary trainwreck will be pretty silly, but the value of the course really depends on how the material is handled.

From Inwood said...

Balfegor

Sorry for the misspelling of your name.

DrSquid said...

Vice Provost for Diversity and Climate?! That's a title worthy of an article from The Onion, which is where this pseudo-intellectual crap belongs. If it were there it would be humorous, in this publication it's pathetic.

ddh said...

Gethsemane's will probably name her first-born daughter Cannae.

TosaGuy said...

I apologize for saying that UW was wasting money and that I was paying too much in state taxes. If only I had known at the time that such a vital option would be part of the curriculum I would not only have sent in more taxes, I would also have donated money to a system I have never attended. I am sorry, please forgive me.

Youngblood said...

From Inwood wrote:

"Individuals such as Kanye West, Jay-Z, Nas, and Missy Elliot, as well as groups like The Fugees and OutKast will visit during the semester, subject to parole regulations."

Why would any of the people above be subject to parole regulations?

Seriously, you could not have possibly have picked a worse group of artists if you wanted to make it seem as though hip hop is shot throught with criminality and gangsterism.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

You know what's missing in college these days? World of warcraft "Studies". And just to maintain diversity, that program can also include stuff like Middle earth online and Second Life as well. Students can learn all about pwnage, not to mention the history of the online gaming experience.
Money well spent I assure you.



I think you were being facetious, but in reality you are correct. The economics of MMORPGs have been seriously studied by economists and compared to real life economic systems.

The accidental plague** in WoW is still being studied as a model of what can happen during and how to deal with a real life plague or outbreak like swine flu.

** That was SO much fun.


Study of game theory and MMORPGs is a serious thing.
wv= guess. ...no really guess.

richard mcenroe said...

They don't have culture. They have product.

Penny said...

Let's say they move forward with this hairbrained idea, and the African American kids STILL flunk out in greater proportional numbers. Then where do we go?

Locally there is a move afoot to open up "branches" of community colleges and universities in what can only be described as a ghetto city. Let's see how that turns out.

Removing excuses, one at a time, and at incredible expense, until we're all broke enough to talk turkey.

mtrobertsattorney said...

Hip-hop 101, Course Description

In order to gain a full understanding and appreciation of this new and difficult discipline, students will be required to bring loaded guns to class.

Conserve Liberty said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Conserve Liberty said...

What has changed since I was in college:

I had a sixty-hour work week, 2 million volumes in the library and my full-time job was to listen, read and write.

Penny said...

"What has changed since I was in college":

LOTS!

Ain't none of it good.

Penny said...

Frankly, I think this is when I need to apologize to Althouse.

I was pissed off that she was sending out more lawyers, when perhaps I should have been thankful that she was personally engaging enough to graduate a few and keep a few behind who know they need to learn more about the law instead of hip-hop.

Or some such nonsense...

Personally, I prefer "UP or OUT".

Oh, I know. It sounds so much better coming from Heidi Klum, and so much more "official" coming from your mom or dad.

Alan Hale said...

I agree with lucid's point that allowing academic credit for such nonsense "is corrupting and undercutting the place of African-Americans in our culture and society," especially because African Americans "working" in fields like this can get accolades for total crap.

Consider Adora Asonye, who graduated from Texas A&M in 2006 with an honors thesis which analyzed mysogynist and violent hip-hop songs. There's a critique of it on "Above the Law" here:
http://abovethelaw.com/2009/01/obamas_are_from_mars_clintons.php?show=comments#comment-911008

You can read it online here:
http://www.scribd.com/doc/21747302/Misogyny-and-Myth

My point is that the woman was presumably praised for writing pointless gibberish, was passed along to Harvard Law School, and then embarrassed herself (and the school) by writing more gibberish concerning an apparent racial incident (possibly a hoax):
http://harvardlawracehoax.wordpress.com/

Wasn't it a disservice to Asonye to permit her to do her honors thesis on such a silly topic, and to complete the requirement with such poor-quality work? Shouldn't African American and other minority students steer away from such areas to avoid the stigma which must attach to anyone involved with them?

Alan Hale said...

For readers who are just skimming, I feel I should cut and paste the gist of the Above the Law comment to which I just linked. I just went back and read it carefully. It showed that the Harvard Law student who'd gotten honors with a crappy paper on hip-hop lyrics argued exactly the opposite of her thesis just a year later during a debate on a racial incident at Harvard Law. It's a vivid illustration of the low (if existent at all) standards a scholarly "field" like hip-hop encourages. I've cut and pasted all 4 paragraphs, verbatim, but you can read it at the link (previous post) as well:

Contrary to what Asonye said in her e-mail to her Harvard classmates about the Chamillionaire song referenced in the Harvard e-mail being racist and evil, in Asonye's thesis she says that she thinks such songs are valuable -- indeed, romantic!:

"Although many use misogynistic, materialistic, and violent lyrics in attempt to belie the notion that hip hop contains any manifestations of romantic love, I contend that not only is romantic love present in hip hop, but the love exhibited does not deviate substantially from common notions of romantic love in mainstream society."

Contrast this with Asonye's 4/13/2007 e-mail to her classmates in which she uses a bunch of gibberish to attack the Chamillionaire e-mail:

"The use of the words 'hate speech' and 'racist' to characterize the statements, and not the individuals, is something that we can debate. The email coupled with the class discussion can be characterized as hate speech as it is defined. It is important that we make this distinction. It would be great to 'rail against the institution' so to speak, when we speak about racism/sexism. It would be equally great to explore our personal biases and recognize when some statements we make can be offensive. This is also a way to change the institution. I have learned a great deal from my classmates this year: specifically about sexism, gay/lesbian rights, and the bloody GOVERNMENT (anarchy anyone??)."

Alan Hale said...

I found another comment on Above the Law analyzing the hip-hop thesis of the Harvard Law Student, here:
http://abovethelaw.com/2009/01/obamas_are_from_mars_clintons.php?show=comments#comment-911016

I've cut and pasted it verbatim:

Christ, I'm reading Asonye's thesis -- it's almost as bad as Michelle Obama's Princeton thesis! Like (p. 2):

"In addition to preventing essentialist notions about hip hop culture from affecting the African American community, the exploration of love in hip hop culture will reveal that rap music is more than the gangsta rap monolith to which critics diminish hip hop. The rap music of Will Smith differs substantially from the music produced by NWA. The content of rap songs draw from myriad life experiences and situations."

She can't even keep plural versus singular word forms straight. Start of page 3:

"I will examine hip hop productions that contains [sic]romantic love but to the cultural critic may not be conceived as such."

End of page 3:

"If love exists in American society despite the presence of these flaws then the accusations that hip hop is devoid of love because of the possession of the same flaws is [sic] not substantiated."

Have you seen a paragraph lately as unintelligible as this one (p. 4)?:

"Exploring love in hip hop culture does not amass to rationalizing misogyny, violence or any of the aforementioned characteristics; it is a rare exploration of the possessions of hip hop instead of an exploration of its shortcomings. There are problematic elements in hip hop culture, as in any, and many scholars have extended this discussion to include the gender crises in the African American youth culture; this study makes no attempt to address or minimize the perceived problems. This essay contributes to the academy of hip hop specifically, and cultural studies generally, by consciously attempting to illuminate the selective application of logic used to assess the same concept in American society and its subcultures, that pervades the cultural studies of minority populations."

That's it! I can't read past page 4. Maybe someone else can bear to do so, and post anything else of interest . . . .

astro lyricist said...

I never really thought people were this naive and ignorant but I guess some of you are...Why do we study Shakespeare? Why do we study Immanuel Kant? Ralph Emerson any body from the canon of western civilization... because people either during their time or posthumously deemed they had something important to say. As with hip-hop culture. Amazingly, people who identify themselves as white are the major consumers of this culture...from the movies clothes and especially the music... I would think that would be justification enough to study hip-hop...just like people study jazz or the Annales School of thought... like it or not Hip-hop is a product of western civilization created from the conditions people who are classified as minorities found themselves in during the late sixties to early seventies...just a fact...I hate to the muddy water of your hate group speech but that just the way it is. It is also cowardly to say thiings on a blog that you would not dare say in public or in my neigborhood but such is life...you guys can continue on with your neo-conservative neo nazi klan rally

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ggrox said...

Hello. My name is Gethsemane Herron and if you have read the article, you would have clearly seen that I have been quoted. I would like to defend my position and respond to other comments I have read on the blog.

My first response is to the author, who argues that pop culture has permeated the world of young Americans and poses the question of why one would pursue it in college, when it exists to educate people on subjects they previously were ignorant on. To “try new things”. Yet, I ask you if you think a university education/experience only for the young? Yes, Hip-Hop is a young art. But by incorporating it into a university curriculum, older generations who have not been exposed to hip hop can also to “try new things”. Whilst I broaden my horizons by taking classes on Psychology, French and Sociology, an older person may broaden theirs by taking a class on Hip-Hop. To answer your question, the point of going to college is to grow in one’s faculties, Ms. Althouse. Perhaps a school where over half (64%) of its students are natives to Wisconsin can benefit from learning about a method of expression that is largely popular on the East and West coasts. I believe that UW-Madison is trying to do just that.

@Peter V. Bella
I ask you what proof do you have in arguing that Hip Hop culture does not exist? Do you live in an area where you can experience it for yourself? Or are you basing your arguments on a negative perception of hip-hop made popular by its critics? What do you know about hip-hop besides what is presented to you?

@Joan. Yes, Gethsemane is really my name. No, I did not adopt it to be cool. My grandmother named me because she believed the name was holy, seeing as the garden of Gethsemane was the place where Jesus prayed the night before he was crucified. There is really nothing post-modern about it; it is more ancient than anything. I would also hope that you would refrain from making comments about my name, when it is quite separate from my argument.

@sonicfrog
Perhaps you should also take a class an English class or two. The last time I checked, “about” did not suddenly replace its ‘a’ with an apostrophe. I also ask you to analyze my argument and not the structure of my sentences.

@ddh
When I have kids, it’s really none of your concern what I will name them. But if you’re so interested, I was thinking I’d name my daughter Eden to continue the tradition of Biblical gardens in my family. Again, this is unrelated to my argument.

I merely want to present an alternate viewpoint. Though the course is now finished, I found it immensely helpful in my personal education. I learned that Hip-Hop is so much more than music or language. That it is not only influential in the lives of people my age but also in the lives of its pioneers, who are now middle aged and are beginning to critique it with the critical distance that Balfegor points out is needed to analyze it critically. But analysis cannot happen if we don’t begin to acknowledge it.

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