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African and African American Studies Duke University – Fall 2013 Instructor: Damien Marassa
I am the essence of all thinking. – Sista Souljah Hip hop is bigger than religion. – Erykah Badu The Thesis: Hip hop is both a new and an ancient form of cultural expression. In this course we will trace aesthetic, discursive and political roots of the contemporary genre of music known globally as “hip hop” through some of the key the aesthetic regimes and discourses responsible for its flourishing. Gender, race, culture and class encounter the utmost complexity of analysis in the cultural productions of African Diasporic women. Thus, questions of multiculturalism, sexual identity, political sovereignty and alternative forms of sociality will be at the forefront of our weekly discussions. Helping to set the terms, the vocabulary and the topics for discussion will be a vast and diverse catalogue of music influencing and culminating in hip hop music. This is not a survey course or a comprehensive introduction to hip hop or African American literature. It is an introduction to a new kind of cultural criticism and inquiry which has been initiated by the epistemological production of hip hop itself. Introduction This syllabus stages a set of social and epistemological conditions for the rigorous, ecstatic and creative interdisciplinary study of African (American) Diasporic texts and expressive culture from a black feminist heuristic reading the production of African (American) literature at the interstices of its aesthetic roots in music, philosophy and political culture. The underlying thesis of these investigations is that people from a wide variety of backgrounds have drawn upon these aesthetic and political idioms developed by African (American) women for purposes of recreation, entertainment, social advancement and personal expression. If jazz, blues and hip hop are musical forms which have encompassed the globe, what can be gained by tracing the roots of these musical styles through a genealogy of black feminist cultural production. What does this teach us about the world-historical character of African (American) women’s cultural-political expression?
Required Readings Primary Texts Albums (on reserve at library – students are encouraged to make a personal copy of these albums for educational purposes only)
I.Madonna Black Star – Mos Def & Talib Kweli Plantation Lullabyes – MeShelle N’Degeocello Lyte As A Rock . Gender. Books Workings of the Spirit – Huston A. Santogold – Santigold. Davis Out of the House of Bondage (excerpts)– Thyvolia Glyph Corrigadora – Gayle Jones Black Chant (excerpts) – Aldon Lynn Nielsen Killing the Black Body (excerpts) – Dorothy Roberts Black Noise (excerpts) – Tricia Rose For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf – Ntozake Shange Secondary Texts: B-Sides “Gender Is Burning” – Judith Butler “Skins. Jr. Tattoos.(List to be supplemented through class discussion) The New Amerykah vol. I & II – Erykah Badu M. Brooks Black Sexual Politics: African Americans. (Discography) The Score – The Fugees The Miseducation of Lauren Hill – Lauren Hill Freedom Now Suite – Abbey Lincoln and Max Roach The Immaculate Collection . Baker. and Susceptibility” Anne Anlin Cheng “Laugh of the Medusa” – Helen Cixous “Why Poets?” – Martin Heidegger “Black Student” – Fred Moten “Paris is Burning” – and other films Bailey’s Café – Gloria Naylor Blood and Guts in High School – Cathy Acker .MC Lyte Who Is Jill Scott? -Jill Scott Fear of a Black Planet – Public Enemy All Hail the Queen – Queen Latifa Black Woman – Sonny and Linda Sharrock High Priestess of Soul – Nina Simone.Angela Y. and the New Racism (excerpts) – Patricia Hill Collins Blues Legacies and Black Feminism . Bodies in Dissent – Daphne A.A. etc.
Abbey Lincoln and Max Roach Week 3 – Session 1 Readings: Out of the House of Bondage (excerpts).Session1 Note: (This will be almost entirely a listening class. After introducing ourselves and our interest in the junction of music and literature in the African Diaspora. Nina Simone. Section 1 – Set It Off: Endtroducions.Session 2 Film: Set It Off (1996) Week 2 – Session 1 Readings: Workings of the Spirit: Chapters 1 & 2. Sweet Honey in the Rock. Roberta Flack. and probably one of the most crucial moments of the seminar. Ma Rainey) Week 1 . for final cumulative grading/ranking). Ruth Foreman. Gal Costa. Memphis Minnie. Bobby McFerrin. Sweet Honey in the Rock. Gwendolyn Brooks Listening: Student Directed Listening and Discussion Section 2: Who Stole the Soul? Week 4 – Session 1 Readings: Blues Legacies: Chapters 1-4 Listening: Bessie Smith. These playlists and other forms of collective group expression will be made available to the public through a class project/musical blog. Santogold.” Poetry by Maya Angelou. Elis Regina . Sonny and Linda Sharrock. Week 2 – Session 2 Readings: “Laugh of the Medusa” Listening: Josephine Baker. Ella Fitzgerald. Listening: Zap Mama. Mary J Blige. Billie Holiday. Ella Fitzgerald. Roberta Flack Week 3 – Session 2 Readings: “Why Poets. Robert Johnson. Ma Rainey.Tertiary/ Ur-Texts 3 Collections of Black Feminist Musical Production (1 to be created by each student. Globalization and the World Historical Woman Week 1 . A fifteen minute discussion of the objectives of the class and an introduction to the syllabus will follow 45 minutes of listening/note-taking on this first day of class. we will proceed by a listening activity which will be repeated in shorter intervals throughout the semester in which students (including the instructor) will listen to uninterrupted musical recordings and/or performances while taking notes. Michael Jackson.) In-class listening: “Collection 1” compiled by instructor (Including: Billie Holiday. Black Feminist Theory (excerpts) Listening: N’Degeocello. Sarah Vaughn. Zap Mama. June Jordan.
Gladys Knight. Moby. Nina Simone Remixed Week 10 – Session 1: For Colored Girls Listening: La Tigre. Cassandra Wilson. Portishead Week 5 – Session 2 Readings: “I Am A Black Student” Listening: Public Enemy. Lady Saw. Lil Kim Week 6 – Session 2 Readings: “US Third World Feminism” in Methodologies of the Oppressed Listening: Student Directed Listening and Discussion Section 3: Natty LaBelle Week 7 – Session 1 Readings: Corrigadora pg 1-32 Listening: M. Erykah Badu. MC Lyte.. The Noisettes. Anita Baker Week 7 – Session 2 Readings: Finish reading Corrigadora Listening: Tina Turner. Nonchalant. Week 9 – Session 2 Reading: Finish reading No Telephone to Heaven Listening: Dinah Washington. MeShelle N’Degeocello Week 8 NO CLASS – HOLIDAY: Go hear or play some live music. Tattoos. Phoebe Snow. Salt & Peppa. Chapter 5 Listening: The Fugees. Patti LaBelle Week 10 – Session 2 Reading: “Skin. Mahalia Jackson. Bring back a recording to class. Erykah Badu.I. Sade. Miseducation of Lauren Hill Week 5 – Session 1 Readings: Finish reading Blues Legacies Listening: Billie Holiday. Lena Horne. Queen Latifa. Massive Attack. Chess Records & Vee Jay Records (Compilations) Week 6 – Session 1 Readings: Black Chant (excerpts) Listening: Da Brat. The Supremes.Week 4 – Session 2 Readings: Blues Legacies. Susceptibility” Listening: Student Directed Listening and Discussion . TLC. Week 9 – Session 1 Reading: No Telephone to Heaven pg 1-150 Listening: Rita Marley.A.
Brittany Spears Reading: Black Noise Week 15 – Session1: Listening: Peaches. Nelly Furtado Reading: Bodies In Dissent (excerpts) Week 13 Listening: Santigold. Eazy. and the New Racism (excerpts) Week 12 – Session 2: Listening: Missy Elliot. Queen Latifa. The Supremes.A. Performance. and the New Racism (excerpts) Week 11 – Session 2: Listening: Mary J Blige. Black Star Sounds. EnVogue. Erykah Badu.E. Sista Souljah Reading: Black Sexual Politics: African Americans. Gender. Janet Jackson. and the New Racism (excerpts) Week 12 – Session 1: Listening: Diggable Planets. Fleetwood Mac. Beyonce. Gender. Reading: Black Sexual Politics: African Americans. Eve. Sista Souljah. Lil Kim. Ice Cube. Peaches. Tricky Reading: Black Sexual Politics: African Americans.Section 3: Fear of a Queer Black Planet Week 11 – Session 1: Listening: Public Enemy.I. Alliyah. Ice-T. Janice Joplin Reading: Black Noise Week 14 – Session 2 Listening/Watching: Lady Gaga. Black Eyed Peas Reading: Bodies in Dissent Week 13 – Session 2: Listening: Student Directed Listening and Discussion Reading: Killing the Black Body Prospectus Due: 5 pages double spaced outlining final research project. Push (Excerpts) Week 15 – Session 2: . Section 4: Rapping It Up: Appropriation.. 2 Live Crew. Theatrics Week 14 – Session 1: Listening: Porgy and Bess. M. Gender. Madonna. Schooly D Reading: Blood and Guts in High School (Excerpts). NWA.
reading the average-length work of theory or fiction may take 8-12 hours. and/or providing commentary on themes and texts engaged in the syllabus. we will be listening to at least 8 albums worth of music. discussion and reflection on any and all content covered in-class. Students will turn in these proposals and verbally present a summary of their proposals to the class. Students will submit response papers to Blackboard discussion board by noon on Tuesday of each week drawing from their in-class listening notes. Bailey’s Café (excerpts) Listening: Student Lead Listening and Discussion END OF SEMINAR (Final papers/group project due one week from last class) Requirements Reading: This course will require both reading texts and listening to music in comparable proportions. If it takes about 65 minutes to listen to the average full-length album. some albums in their entirety. traditional essay-style writing. Therefore. poetic and experimental writing are encouraged as well as formal. For students who . for every book we read in this class. autobiographical.Reading: “Gender Is Burning” Film: “Paris is Burning Week 16 – Session 1 Reading: Killing the Black Body (excerpts). Journalistic. referencing in-class discussions. These writing assignments are meant to stimulate thought. and other musical collections compiled by myself and students in fulfillment of homework assignments. Prospectus This paper proposal for a final project (regardless of whether the student opts to write the final paper or contribute to the group blog) will consist of a five page double-spaced articulation of a thesis statement. description of a methodology and speculation on potential challenges of a research project the student will produce based on the requirements of the final paper. Final Paper Students have a choice between either writing a final paper (individually) or pooling their discursive and research resources with other students to complete a group project. Writing: Response Papers A two-page double spaced weekly response paper from each student will be required beginning the second week of class.
Lady Gaga’s “Telephone”). Group Project: The weekly response papers students submit as well as their respective prospectuses will all add content to and determine the final name. The Fugees’ The Score. Students interested in participating in this project should sign up to begin working on it outside of class by the time prospectuses are due. look and purpose of an online music blog. video or song by a woman artist (i.e. . 3 critical essay on black aesthetic tradition in the work of 1 album. the following three options are open to them: Choice between a musical biography of one to three musical/literary artists in the Black Feminist expressive tradition. A sonic memoir (autobiographical essay/album review).choose to write the final paper individually.
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