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The Rhetoric of Hip Hop

Doug Norman
University of Texas, Austin
Before 2005

“The Rhetoric of Hip Hop” is a computer-assisted writing course centered around hip-hop language, music, and culture. Our aim will be to explore, in depth, the language of this radical, rhetorical tradition, primarily in rap lyrics but also in popular magazines and on selected web sites. We will give much attention to the sociopolitical issues at the core of hip hop including but not limited to racism, the ghetto, sexism, gang violence, intellectual property, and exploitation of artists.

The evolution of hip hop will also concern us as we consider not only the lyrics and music, but also other cultural forms in which it manifests itself for example, graffiti art, DJ culture, and fashion. Though our chief emphasis will be on your own writing, much of our class time and most of the readings will focus on the subject matter.

In addition to the readings, we will regularly listen to the music and view assorted film clips and music videos. For each paper assignment, students will turn in a topic proposal, a final draft, a critique of a peer’s paper, and an optional rewrite. This class will be taught in a computer classroom, so students should be familiar with basic Web-browser and e-mail functions. A few class periods will consist of hands-on workshops to learn other computer applications.

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