Story Maps Proposal Outline Assignment

December 23, 2020

Each group member should be acttively involved in discussing the outline for the Story Map and selecting material. in addition, each group member must submit a proposal for the hip-hop related material — event, song, or hip-hop artist — she will cover, explaining how it relates to the group’s overall outline and research question, and identifying the relevant sociological concepts that will be covered.

Outline your individual contribution to this group project. In a 2- 3 page 12-point font Google Doc (no more than 1,000 words), submit your outline for the Story Maps assignment  noting the following details:

Requirements

  • City or Borough of Study
  • Group Members
  • Group Research Question
  • Story Maps Format

Your Contribution: For your selection, explain:

  • whether it is an event, song, or artist
  • an explanation of your choice
    • Why did you choose the event, song, or artist?
    • How does it relate back to the research question for your group?

• A relevant map location in your borough of study

• How and why does your chosen event, song, or artist connect back to a specific space or place in this borough?

• Explain how your research question, or the thesis you formulate in answering it, meaningfully connects to one concept, theme, or theory — a keyword, in short — from the course. In the ideal case, you will also be able to connect this keyword in some substantive way to your material (event, song, or artist) and the map location you have chosen.

• What quantitative information will you provide about this location? What qualitative information will you provide? Examples of quantitative information can include survey statistics on race, class, gender, education, journal articles, research studies, white papers, statistical reports etc. Examples of qualitative information can include, interviews, newspaper articles, videos, images, lyrics, course readings, etc.

The ideal paper will pose a well-crafted and answerable research question, suggest an interesting thesis in answer, make specific reference to course readings (NOT the kind of strained reference that lazy students make just to tick a box); and identify some useful sources of empirical data (quantitative and qualitative) that will enable you to forcefully argue for your thesis.

Checklist for Submission

  • Are all of my in-text citations formatted correctly in ASA style?
  • Have I included a reference list, also formatted in ASA style?
  • Does that reference list include a ‘snowball’ reference?
  • Have I indicated clearly which reference is my snowball?
  • Have I indicated clearly where I snowballed from?

ASA style should be used for all citations; you should also incluude a reference list in ASA style].

REFERENCES

Hip-Hop’s Gender Politics, Past and Present

December 4, 2020

Tricia Rose’s (2004) appraisal of women from the first generation of MCs gives us some crucial historical perspective on the cultural changes described by Jon Caramanica and Clover Hop in their recent podcast (‘Saweetie, City Girls, and the Female Rapper Renaissance’ 2020). Are female MCs really more conspicuous, suddenly? And are the best of today’s newcomers really more assertive (sexually, gender-politically, socially) and more important than the standard-bearers of previous generations?

As rap’s territory expands, so does the material of female rappers. Subjects ranging from racism, black politics, Afrocentrism and nationalism to homelessness, physical abuse of women and children, drug addiction, AIDS and teen pregnancy can all be found in female rappers’ repertoire. “Ladies First,” Queen Latifah’s second release from her debut album, All Hail the Queen, is a landmark example of such expansions.

(Rose 2004:300)

Given the fact that protest footage rap videos (which have become quite popular over the last few years) have all but excluded scenes of black women leaders or foot soldiers, the centrality of black women’s political protest in “Ladies First” is refreshing. Scenes of dozens of rural African women running with sticks raised above their heads toward armed oppressors, holding their ground alongside men in equal numbers and dying in struggle, are rare media images. … Latifah’s self-possession and independence is an important facet of the new cultural nationalism in rap. The powerful, level-headed and black feminist character of her lyrics calls into question the historically cozy relationship between nationalism and patriarchy.

(Ibid., pp. 301, 302)
Aside from the gender politics here, we might also note the historical significance of Salt-N-Pepa’s collabo with E.U., purveyors of Go-Go, a regional hip-hop subgenre notable for having remained regional and not national. (Cf. also Latifah’s cross-Atlantic alliance with Monie Love and UK rap.)

A primary source of the video’s power is Salt-N-Pepa’s irreverence toward the morally- based sexual constrictions placed on them as women. They mock moral claims about the proper modes of women’s expression and enjoy every minute of it. Their defiance of the moral, sexual restrictions on women is to be distinguished from challenges to the seemingly gender neutral laws against public nudity. Salt-N-Pepa are eventually released because their dancing isn’t against the law (as they say, “We could get loose, but we can’t get naked”). … The police raid and arrests make explicit the real, informal yet institutionally-based policing of female sexual expression.

(Ibid., p. 302).

But their “dirty dancing” also teases the male viewer who would misinterpret their sexual freedom as an open sexual invitation. The rappers make it clear that their expression is no such thing: “A guy touch my body? I just put him in check.” Salt-N-Pepa thus force a wedge between overt female sexual expression and the presumption that such expressions are intended to attract men. “Shaking your thang” can create a stir, but that should not prevent women from doing it when and how they choose.

(Ibid.)

The distinctly black, physical and sexual pride that these women (and other black female rappers) exude serves as a rejection of the aesthetic hierarchy in American culture that marginalizes black women.

(Ibid.)

Obviously, the common practice of objectifying all women’s bodies complicates the way some might interpret Salt-N-Pepa shaking their collective thangs. For some, Salt-N-Pepa’s sexual freedom could be considered dangerously close to self-inflicted exploitation. Such misunderstanding of the racial and sexual significance of black women’s sexual expression may explain the surprisingly cautious responses I have received from some white feminists regarding the importance of female rappers. However, as Hortense Spillers and other prominent black feminists have argued, a history of silence has surrounded African-American women’s sexuality. Spillers argues that this silence has at least two faces; either black women are creatures of male sexual possession, or else they are reified into the status of non-being. Room for self-defined sexual identity exists in neither alternative. The resistant nature of black women’s participation in rap is better understood when we take the historical silence, sexual and otherwise, of black women into consideration. Salt-N-Pepa are carving out a female-dominated space in which black women’s sexuality is openly expressed.

(Ibid., pp. 302-303)

Black women rappers sport Hip Hop clothing and jewelry as well as distinctively black hairstyles. They affirm a black, female, working-class cultural aesthetic that is rarely depicted in American popular culture. Black women rappers resist patterns of sexual objectification and cultural invisibility, and they also resist academic reification and mainstream, hegemonic, white feminist discourse.

(Ibid., p. 303)

Given the identities these women rappers have fashioned for themselves, it is not surprising that they want to avoid being labeled feminists. During my conversations with Salt, MC Lyte and Queen Latifah, it became clear that these women saw feminism as a signifier for a movement that related specifically to white women. They also thought feminism involved adopting an anti-male position, and they did not want to be considered or want their work to be interpreted as anti-black male.

(Ibid.)

One of the remarkable talents black women rappers have is their capacity to attract a large male following and consistently perform their explicitly pro-woman material. They are able to sustain dialogue with and consequently encourage dialogue between young men and women that supports black women and challenges some sexist male behavior. For these women rappers, feminism is a movement that does not speak to men; while on the other hand, they are engaged in constant communication with black male audiences and rappers, and they simultaneously support and offer advice to their young, black female audiences.

(Ibid., p. 304)

Rap can no longer be imagined without women rappers’ contributions. They have expanded rap’s territory and have effectively changed the interpretive framework regarding the work of male rappers. As women who challenge the sexist discourse expressed by male rappers yet sustain dialogue with them, who reject the racially-coded aesthetic hierarchies in American popular culture, who support black women and black culture, black female rappers constitute an important voice in Hip Hop and contemporary black women’s cultural production generally.

(Ibid.)

REFERENCES

Rose, Tricia. 2004. ‘Never Trust a Big Butt and a Smile’. In Murray Forman and Mark Anthony Neal, eds. That’s the Joint! The Hip-Hop Studies Reader, 1st Ed. New York: Routledge.  

‘Saweetie, City Girls, and the Female Rapper Renaissance’. 2020. Popcast, 29 November.

Hip-Hop’s Urban Geography: DJ Screw and the Sound of Houston’s South Side

December 3, 2020

Here’s an excerpt of the clip above with just Floyd’s verse:

Hip-Hop and the Ethics of Authenticity

November 5, 2020

Davarian Baldwin, ‘Black Empires, White Desires: The Spatial Politics of Identity in the Age of Hip-Hop’, in Forman and Neal (2012)

‘”Me, Myself and I” attempted to open a space where blackness couuld be understood through parody and the interrogation of multiple identities within hip hop, while simultaneously making subtle political statements to the nation at large’ (Baldwin 2012:223).
‘Even through a female voice, the message evokes the patriarchal order where women are revered solely for their inherent nurturing and reproductive skills’ (ibid., p. 234).
Intraracial Class Conflict and the ‘Rural Romantic’: ‘The voices of their women rappers are constrained by their role as a prize. In [Arrested Development’s] work, the “black queen” serves as an object that must not be contaminated by “niggas”‘ (p. 235).
No medallions/
dreadlocks/
or Black fist it’s just that gangsta glare/
with gangsta rap that gangsta shit/
brings a gang of snaps/

Instead of seeing this position as exemplifying a movement of anti-politics, I see it as a shift in the way in which politics is articulated. In hindsight, it is an attempt to break the stranglehold of nation-conscious rap on hip hop expression. The political language of nation-conscious rap, in its most general sense, was traded in for the grammar of the hood and the particular day-to-day struggles of black people (p. 236).

‘The male rapper begins to call for the restoration of the patriarchal order, because for him, the female is fixed as a threat to the progress of his success or hustle’ (ibid.).
‘One way in which upward mobility has historically been policed is by the coupling of class status with behavioral dictates. As working-class blacks advance financially thorough the entertainment arena, they are expected to change their behaviours in a way that “properly” suits their new economic status’ (p. 238).
Your worst fear confirmed/
Me and my fam'(ily) roll tight like the firm/

Both lyrics [from ‘Can’t Knock the Hustle’ and ‘Hard Knock Life’] endorse a hustler’s mentality, a strategic manipulation of the opportunities made available in light of socio-economic inequalities. This perspective suggests that consumption and pleasure could serve as working-class critiques of middle-class ideals and also utilizes the trope of the gangsta/playa to appropriate the terrain of the “free” market for black institution-building (p. 240).

Fifty-inch screen/
money green leather sofa
/…

As ‘keepin it real’ in gangsta rap became prevalent, artists competed with one another to see who could depict the most devastatingly grim “personal” narratives. Biggie, however, was unabashed about his goal of upward mobility within the narratives of his ghetto background. He did not feel that he had to stay in the ghetto or necessarily back up his lyrics with authentic acts. … He didn’t totally leave the hood behind, but he was more self-conscious in his ‘performance’ of the gangsta lifestyle (ibid.).

‘[Foxy Brown and Lil’ Kim] questioned normative notions of male-female relations; in their stories, they acquire capital, express dissatisfaction with sexual partners, and reverse stereotypical gender roles’ (pp. 240-410.
‘When patriarchal desires suddenly become articulated in a female voice, these desires are deemed “unnatural”. … Female identity in these musical texts becomes performance by coupling highly materialistic and aesthetically violent and excessive personas with infectious beats and rhymes’ (p. 241).
‘[Lil’ Kim] and her fellow female artists have understood that “sex sells” and have indirectly initiated a transformation of the color-coded and gender-laden rules by which social relations are scrutinized. This is in no way a proto-feminist position; neither Kim nor Foxy increases the value of women’s sexuality. Nonetheless, their performances in the cultural marketplace open up a dialogue about “natural” gender roles and explore issues of female pleasure’ (p. 242). Should we draw the same conclusions about Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion?

The gangsta/playa and the subject matter associated with this icon can now be understood as a strategy, a work in progress. This is a position of maneuverability, which in its present form doesn’t endorse the cult of authenticity that must be explicitly be a “pure” counter to the mainstream [see also pl 242]. … Democracy , nationhood, and struggles over identity are being theoried through the circuits of desire and spectacle and are best summed up by Jay-Z, who doesn’t ask to ‘Rock the Vote’ or ‘Just Say No’, but ‘Can I live?’ (p. 244).

REFERENCES

Baldwin, Davarian. 2012. ‘Black Empires, White Desires: The Spatial Politics of Identity in the Age of Hip-Hop’. In Murray Forman and Mark Anthony Neal, eds., That’s the Joint! The Hip-Hop Studies Reader, 2nd Ed. New York: Routledge, 2012.  

Annotated Bibliography Assignment (Sociology of Hip-Hop)

October 16, 2020

The purpose of this assignment is to help you make sure your citations are properly formatted before you turn in your midterm. Additionally, the annotations should provide an opportunity to make sure you’ve understood the source correctly and prompt you to reflect on your use of it in your paper.

In this assignment, you will create a reference list in ASA style for your midterm take-home essay exam and add annotations for each of the four required sources you are to consult from the assigned reading; Additionally, you must ‘snowball backwards’ by consulting and making reference to at least one other source cited in the assigned reading. (You should therefore have a total of at least five annotated references.)  For example, Bennett (2004) cites a discussion by Keyes (1991) in which the latter traces the vocal techniques used in rap music to certain African bardic traditions as well as to musical practises in the rural US South. Let’s say you wanted to know more than what Bennett’s cursory summary revealed; you would need to consult this reference for yourself and then incorporate it into your own analysis (and cite it accordingly).

Some of my comments on your assignment will seem a bit cryptic; you can decode them HERE.

Instructions

  • List your sources. Clearly indicate which one is the ‘snowball’ reference, and explain which of the four assigned readings led you to it.
  • Format the items in this reference list in accord with ASA Style.
  • For each item, add a brief summary plus any other annotations as to how you intend to use the source (e.g., quotable language, striking empirical findings, an important concept discussed). This doesn’t need to be more than a paragraph.

Example:

Carswell, Andrew and Douglas Bachtell. 2009. “Mortgage Fraud: A Risk Factor Analysis of Affected Communities.” Crime, Law and Social Change 52:347-364.

Mortgage fraud is a type of white collar crime that is growing in importance. The data analysis indicates that it occurs more often in neighborhoods with low socioeconomic status. However, there are important differences between regions and the neighborhood has an effect. Recommendations for future research are given.

Create a Google Doc of this bibliography and paste a shareable link to it in the appropriate answer box on Blackboard (this link will take you to an instructional video; remember to change the settings from ‘Anyone with the link can view’ to ‘Anyone with the link can edit’!).

REFERENCES

Bennett, Andy. 2004. “Hip-Hop am Main, Rappin’ on the Tyne: Hip-Hop Culture as a Local Construct in Two European Cities.” In Murray Forman and Mark Anthony Neal, eds., That’s the Joint! The Hip-Hop Studies Reader, 1st Ed. New York: Routledge.  Retrieved 19 October 2020 (http://sites.psu.edu/comm292/wp-content/uploads/sites/5180/2014/10/FormanNeal-Thats_the_Joint_The_Hip_Hop_Studies_Readerbook.pdf).

Keyes, Cheryl L. 1991. Rappin’ to the Beat: Rap Music as Street Culture Among African Americans. Doctoral thesis published by University Microfilms International, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

*This assignment is based on one created by Professor Elin Waring (Lehman College).

Discussion: What Is Hip-Hop?

September 8, 2020

This may sound like a simplistic question, but note that even hip-hop’s ‘founding fathers’ can’t agree on a definition: early on in an interview with Nelson George (2004), Grandmaster Flash objects to the inclusion of graffiti in hip-hop culture, while Kool DJ Herc and Afrika Bambaataa seem more open to the idea (p. 47). What defines hip-hop, in your opinion, and why? What things do others frequently consider hip-hop that you would not? And what kinds of evidence (e.g., textual, experiential, observational, quantitative) can you appeal to for support? 

See if it helps to use the sociological imagination here, paying special attention to questions of social structurehistory, and human nature, as C. Wright Mills (1959) recommends. Post your answer, then respond to at least two other classmates’ posts for full credit. Be advised that simple, going-through-the-motions comments like ‘I agree’ don’t count.

Note: No credit will be given for anything posted after the due date.

REFERENCES

George, Nelson. 2004. In Murray Forman and Mark Anthony Neal. 2004. That’s the Joint! The Hip-Hop Studies Reader, 1st Ed. New York: Routledge.  

Assignment: Find Top Authorities for a Subject

September 7, 2020

By pooling the group’s knowledge and doing research, develop a list of three authoritative books/websites for information on American Hate Groups. Create one Google Doc for the group’s list; each of you must post a link to this document in the appropriate place on Blackboard in order to receive credit for the group’s work. 

Your sources should be:

  • Written, edited, or curated by people with a high level of subject expertise
  • Have a process in place that ensures accuracy and verification

Or, the sources should be:

  • Written and published by someone with a reputation for accuracy
  • Informed by a broad array of expert interviews and perspectives

Format each citation in ASA style and then write a brief annotation for each item on your list explaining how it fulfills these requirements.

Note: This assignment is adapted from Chapter 30 of Michael Caulfield’s Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers.

Discussion: The Dirty South

March 25, 2020

Summing up what we might call his ‘semantic history’ of the meaning of the phrase Dirty South, Matt Miller writes that ‘the development, marketing, and consumption of the Dirty South came about as a result of the geography of the rap music industry, and built upon pre-existing ideas about the South and its inhabitants’. ‘What remains to be seen’, he continues, is

whether the concept [of the Dirty South] will continue to have currency or whether it will fade into the background as rappers and producers from the South are drawn closer to the mainstream of rap music production. … As the Dirty South has become an accepted division within the rap music landscape, we can expect other imagined regions to follow in its footsteps. (Miller 2012:291).

Sixteen years on, would you say that the ‘concept’ of the Dirty South has stayed in the foreground of the rap music landscape, or has it faded into the background, as Miller perceived it to be doing in 2004? And what, if any, other ‘imagined regions’ have followed in its footsteps? How might we need to update this essay on those two points, in other words?

Post your answer on Slack in the #stepinthearena channel (you’ll need at least a paragraph  or two in order to ensure that you’ve answered the questions fully), then respond to at least two other classmates’ posts for full credit. You have until 23:59 Friday night to complete it.

The ideal response to this prompt would be thoughtful and analytical, and make close reference to our recent assigned reading on this topic. The same goes to your responses to your classmates’ posts; don’t just go through the motions! Rather than simply posting ‘I agree’, you might point to specific passages in the textbook that buttress the original poster’s points, but which she nevertheless did not cite. Instead of simply registering your disagreement with another poster, you might suggest a better example and explain why you think it’s better. Or you might use the methods of creative agreement and creative disagreement (see Booth, Colomb, and Williams 2008).

 

REFERENCES

Booth, Wayne, Gregory Colomb, & Joseph M. Williams. 2008. The Craft of Research, 3rd Ed.  Chicago:  The University of Chicago Press.

Miller, Matt. [2004] 2012. ‘Rap’s Dirty South: From Subculture to Pop Culture’, in Murray Forman and Mark Anthony Neal, ed., That’s the Joint! The Hip-Hop Studies Reader, 2nd Ed. New York: Routledge. 

Discussion: Max Weber and the Concept of Charismatic Authority

March 25, 2020

Choose an historical figure whose authority stemmed from his or her charisma. Describe why this person’s authority was charismatic in the Weberian sense and how this form of legitimate authority changed over time (for example, describe whether it was traditionalised or rationalised). (Quoted almost verbatim  from Conley 2017:612, Question 4).

Post your answer on Slack in the #politics channel (you’ll need at least a paragraph in order to ensure that you’ve responded thoroughly), then respond to at least two other classmates’ posts for full credit. You have until 23:59 Thursday night to complete it.

The ideal response to this prompt would be thoughtful and analytical, and make close reference to our recent assigned reading on this topic. The same goes to your responses to your classmates’ posts; don’t just go through the motions! Rather than simply posting ‘I agree’, you might point to specific passages in the textbook that buttress the original poster’s points, but which she nevertheless did not cite. Instead of simply registering your disagreement with another poster, you might suggest a better example and explain why you think it’s better. Or you might use the methods of creative agreement and creative disagreement (see Booth, Colomb, and Williams 2008).

 

REFERENCES

Booth, Wayne, Gregory Colomb, & Joseph M. Williams. 2008. The Craft of Research, 3rd Ed.  Chicago:  The University of Chicago Press.

Conley, Dalton. 2017. You May Ask Yourself: An Introduction to Thinking Like a Sociologist, 5th Ed. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.

Discussion: Housing and Ethnic Diversity in America

March 24, 2020

Where have you always wanted to live? What, in other words, is your ideal living arrangement? Would you be able to live in the city or in the country; in a house or a condominium; in what kind of a neighbourhood? Reflect on these questions with an eye toward ethnic relations. How might racial domination in the residential field condition your ideas? Have you thought about the ethnic composition of your dream neighbourhood? How and why (or why not)? (Quoted almost verbatim from Desmond and Emirbayer 2016:201).

Post your answer on Slack in the #housingandethnicdiversity channel (you’ll need at least a paragraph in order to ensure that you’ve covered all six questions posted above), then respond to at least two other classmates’ posts for full credit. You have until 23:59 Thursday night to complete it.

The ideal response to this prompt would be thoughtful and analytical, and make close reference to our recent assigned reading on this topic. The same goes to your responses to your classmates’ posts; don’t just go through the motions! Rather than simply posting ‘I agree’, you might point to specific passages in the textbook that buttress the original poster’s points, but which she nevertheless did not cite. Instead of simply registering your disagreement with another poster, you might suggest a better example and explain why you think it’s better. Or you might use the methods of creative agreement and creative disagreement (see Booth, Colomb, and Williams 2008).

 

REFERENCES

Booth, Wayne, Gregory Colomb, & Joseph M. Williams. 2008. The Craft of Research, 3rd Ed.  Chicago:  The University of Chicago Press.

Desmond, Matthew, and Mustafa Emirbayer. 2016. Race in America. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.