ENG573: BEATS, RHYMES & NARRATIVE

You’ll examine the relationship between hip-hop and written narrative, with a focus on short stories and poems.

The influence of hip-hop on popular culture, literary arts, entertainment and politics is undeniable. Hamilton has revolutionized the Broadway musical. Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly has been used in the same course with Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye. Universities have developed research institutes, archives and pedagogical centers for the study of hip-hop. In this course, we will examine the relationship between hip-hop and narratology. We will listen to several songs weekly, compare them to short stories and poems, and analyze their use of narrative devices. Discussions will engage in hip-hop as a modern day blues, a form of social justice, exploring issues of gender, race, class and resistance. Texts will include poetry by Patrick Rosal and Patricia Smith, fiction by Junot Díaz and Victor Lavalle, cultural commentary by Jeff Chang, lyrics by artists like Lupe Fiasco and Beyoncé, “classic” hip-hop, and other relevant sources (e.g., film, biographies and articles). Assignments will include a creative literary analysis of several songs and a major assignment at the end of the course.