This undergraduate course will provide a comprehensive overview of contemporary cultural critiques of gender, sexuality, and heteropatriarchy by scholars and activists of the hip-hop generation. We will consider the use of hip hop as a form of cultural and political activism that forces Americans to confront key social justice issues including: sexual and gender violence, homophobia, and destructive representations of black and brown masculinity and femininity in U.S. popular culture. The heavy interplay between race, gender, sexuality, and the criminalization of people of color in mainstream media is a core theme that will be revisited throughout the course.
Students will learn to reject the tendency to equate hip hop with rap music. Instead, we explore the ways that hip hop has shaped the culture, aesthetics, experiences, and perspectives of an emergent generation of social critics who aim to challenge large scale social inequalities in national and transnational contexts. Our understanding of hip hop extends beyond the four elements, and encompasses youth inspired artistic and political movements. This course will showcase the perspectives of hip hop feminists: female and transgender writers, performers, activists, students, and teachers who have come of age in the era of hip hop, and who courageously attempt to politicize the presence of the gendered body, standpoint, and worldview within and beyond the original four elements of the genre (rap, graffiti, emceeing, dee-jaying).