MUS 217
Hip Hop Culture Spring 2025
Division I Writing Skills Difference, Power, and Equity
Cross-listed AMST 222 / ENGL 221 / AFR 222

Class Details

The course examines how young people of color created hip hop culture in the postindustrial ruins of New York City, a movement that would eventually grow into a global cultural industry. Hip hop music producers have long practiced “diggin’ in the crates”–a phrase that denotes searching through record collections to find material to sample. In this course, we will examine the material and technological history of hip hop culture, with particular attention to hip hop’s tendency to sample, remix, mash-up, and repurpose existing media artifacts to create new works or art. We will use a media archaeological approach to examine the precise material conditions that first gave rise to graffiti art, deejaying, rapping, and breakdancing, and to analyze hip hop songs, videos, and films. Media archaeology is a critical and artistic practice that seeks to interpret the layers of significance embedded in cultural artifacts. How does hip hop archaeology remix the past, the present, and the future? How do the historical, political, and cultural coding of hip hop artifacts change as they increasingly become part of institutional collections, from newly established hip hop archives at Cornell and Harvard to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture?
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 19
Expected: 19
Class#: 3375
Grading: no pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: Four papers, project with presentation, and a final exam.
Prerequisites: None
Enrollment Preferences: AMST majors or prospective majors
Distributions: Division I Writing Skills Difference, Power, and Equity
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
AMST 222 Division II ENGL 221 Division I AFR 222 Division II MUS 217 Division I
WS Notes: Students in this course develop a capacity to write generative arguments in an interdisciplinary scholarly context. Students will receive feedback not only on structure, substance, and style, but also on how to best build a line of inquiry, how to gather high-quality evidence, and how to make one's thinking productively intersect with more than one scholarly or creative field.
DPE Notes: This course requires students to use an effective descriptive and critical vocabulary to discuss and analyze artifacts of hip hop culture, with attention to race, gender, class, sexuality, and other categories of social difference. They must understand the material, technological, historical, and cultural contexts that gave rise to hip hop culture, and proficiently synthesize scholarly perspectives related to the formation and transformations of hip hop from the early 70s to the early 21st cent.
Attributes: AFR Culture, Performance, and Popular Technologies
AMST Arts in Context Electives
AMST Comp Studies in Race, Ethnicity, Diaspora

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