In 1989 rap duo Public Enemy released their iconic song “Fight the Power.” Group members Chuck D and Flavor Flav engaged in resistance rhetoric and called members of the hip hop community to join them in revolution. At the 2017 BET Hip-Hop Awards Detroit rapper Eminem performed a freestyle that criticized the current United States president. The internet was buzzing with the overtly political and subversive moment. While Eminem is not the first or only overtly political rapper, this is the most recent moment in an ongoing hip hop resistance culture. Hip-hop has always been political and served to disrupt and reject mainstream desires for Black conformity, and pushed back against systems of oppression that have served to marginalize and oppress Black and brown people. Artists like J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar, Queen Latifah, Kanye West, KRS-One, and countless others have used their art as an outlet for protest. However, even popular non-political hip hop provides a mirror through which to examine hegemonic social structures. Our seminar will use hip-hop as a framework for exploring questions of race, class, gender, and power in the United States. We will view music videos, films, and listen to myriad songs.
Together, SSI-1 and SSI-2 develop in first-year students the “abilities of reading, writing, and oral argument necessary to enter into academic conversations.” Both seminars “teach students how to frame a problem or question, how to develop a thesis, how to defend their [theses] effectively, and how to think critically about arguments—their own and those of others. These seminars address important conventions of written argumentation” and approach “writing as a process.” Seminar 2 differs from its predecessor in that here students “produce a substantive scholarly paper or project…that involves independent research.” To prepare for this culminating project, students learn in Seminar 1 to “distinguish between different types of information sources” and to “evaluate sources of information for biases, reliability, and appropriateness.” In Seminar 2 they build upon that foundation, learning to “craft research questions, search for and retrieve information, and seek appropriate information for biases, reliability, and appropriateness.”