Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Monday, Sept. 17 Assignment

We watched Byron's Hurt's film: "Hip Hop Beyond Beats and Rhymes in both classes yesterday. We finished the film in the 1-3 p.m. class. Before watching the film we read a poem from a Rose Grew from Concrete: "And Still I Love," and discussed the themes expressed in the thesis sentences students developed.

Before watching the film students were asked to identify the introduction, the director's purpose, his key arguments, and his conclusion. After the film,students filled out an Initial Planning Sheet (handout) as if we were Byron Hurt. Students were reminded that they only had to respond to one angle: masculinity in hip hop, homophobia in hip hop, misogny in hip hop, or media literacy in hip hop.

We also reviewed the field trip announcement on the reverse of the paper. The English 201 class meets in A-200 Wednesday, and at 1:30 we will go over to the L-building for a library orientation.

The assignment follows. Final draft due dates vary.

Hip Hop Beyond Beats and Rhymes
Directed by Byron Hurt

From http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/hiphop/

Filmmaker Byron Hurt, a life-long hip-hop fan, was watching rap music videos on BET when he realized that each video was nearly identical. Guys in fancy cars threw money at the camera while scantily clad women danced in the background. As he discovered how stereotypical rap videos had become, Hurt, a former college quarterback turned activist, decided to make a film about the gender politics of hip-hop, the music and the culture that he grew up with. “The more I grew and the more I learned about sexism and violence and homophobia, the more those lyrics became unacceptable to me,” he says. “And I began to become more conflicted about the music that I loved.” The result is HIP-HOP: Beyond Beats and Rhymes, a riveting documentary that tackles issues of masculinity, sexism, violence and homophobia in today’s hip-hop culture.

Sparking dialogue on hip-hop and its declarations on gender, HIP-HOP: Beyond Beats and Rhymes provides thoughtful insight from intelligent, divergent voices including rap artists, industry executives, rap fans and social critics from inside and outside the hip-hop generation. The film includes interviews with famous rappers such as Mos Def, Fat Joe, Chuck D and Jadakiss and hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons; along with commentary from Michael Eric Dyson, Beverly Guy-Sheftall, Kevin Powell and Sarah Jones and interviews with young women at Spelman College, a historically black school and one of the nation’s leading liberal arts institutions.

The film also explores such pressing issues as women and violence in rap music, representations of manhood in hip-hop culture, what today’s rap lyrics reveal to their listeners and homoeroticism in hip-hop. A “loving critique” from a self-proclaimed “hip-hop head,” HIP-HOP: Beyond Beats and Rhymes discloses the complex intersection of culture, commerce and gender through on-the-street interviews with aspiring rappers and fans at hip-hop events throughout the country.

Hip-hop has been accused of glorifying violence, misogyny and homophobia, and at the same time has been lauded for its ability to simply “tell it like it is.” Such controversial debates over forms of expression can rarely be boiled down to a simple case of wrong versus right. Instead, they are complex and multi-layered and must take into account the larger cultural context.

HIP-HOP: Beyond Beats and Rhymes goes beyond polarizing arguments to explore hip-hop’s most contested issues. How do limited perceptions of masculinity play into a culture of violence? What roles do misogyny and homophobia have in hip-hop culture—as well as in wider mainstream cultures? And are the media and music industries really to blame?

At this link, in 250-500 words, explore one of the issues raised: masculinity, misogyny, homophobia, or media literacy. http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/hiphop/issues.htm.

The first draft of this typed essay is due at the next class meeting for a peer review. The final draft is due for English 201 that meets from 8-9 on Thursday, Sept. 20. For English 201 which meets from 1-3, the essay is due on Monday, Sept. 24.

Bring in Diana Hacker's Rules for Writers so we can talk about peer reviews. Each essay should be minimally 4 paragraphs. Use examples from the film and other sources, such as music lyrics and artists to support your claims. Use standard English as the primary language. When necessary to use the vernacular or specialized language, quote someone. Writers can also clarify any terms which might not be readily understood. This essay audience is a scholarly one, not your peers.

After the peer reviews, students will post their essays on the blog also for further comments.

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