UT Programs Explore Hip-Hop Culture

KNOXVILLE — Hip-hop culture, which began as a pop culture phenomenon in the 1970s, has become a highly respected field of academic study in universities nationwide with courses in English, history, African-American studies and religious studies being taught. Two leading scholars in the field will speak at the University of Tennessee March 8-9.

Mark Anthony Neal and Joan Morgan will lead an open dialogue about race, gender and class politics within hip-hop culture in a lecture at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 8, in the Hodges Library auditorium and they will participate in a roundtable discussion with several UT faculty members at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 9, in the Hermitage Room of the University Center.

-The negative stereotypes of being black in America are often superimposed on rap,- said David Ikard, an assistant professor in UT-s English department. -In the 1970s, money was cut from after-school programs in black neighborhoods and art forms like graffiti and rap music grew from the lack of programming offered to the young people.-

Ikard added that the two speakers will discuss black feminism in the 21st century and the negative stereotypes of the hip-hop and rap cultures.

Neal, an associate professor of black popular culture at Duke University, is a leading authority on hip-hop culture and political theory. He is the author of a widely read online Web log, or blog, (newblackman.blogspot.com) and a hip-hop anthology, which offers an array of perspectives from social theorists.

Morgan is a freelance journalist who has written for such publications as -Miss,- -Ebony- and -Cosmopolitan.- Her controversial book, -When the Chickenheads Come Home to Roost,- explores the traditional values of black feminism. The title refers to a stereotypical black woman who dates or marries a man to gain access to his financial means.

Morgan-s book talks about women who use their physical appearance as a commodity in their lives, said Ikard.

-They will try to debunk the myth that this culture is a catalyst for all the negative traits often associated with hip-hop,- Ikard said.

Neal-s works have stated that to pigeonhole drug use, violence against women and gangs, for example, as outcomes of hip-hop culture would be turning a blind eye to larger U.S. cultural issues.

UT offers two special topics courses in African American studies that teach hip hop culture and theory. Ikard and Dr. George White team-teach African American Studies 450 which focuses on the politics of gender, race, class and the international response of hip hop.

Dr. Cynthia Flemming teaches African American Studies 202 which focuses on civil rights politics and hip hop, concentrating on its historical development and significance.

Plans are in process to add a dedicated course on hip hop culture in the 2007-08 academic year.

For more information on Neal and Morgan-s visit or on UT-s hip hop courses, contact David Ikard at (865) 974-7166 or dikard@utk.edu.

Contact:
Beth Gladden (865-974-9008, beth.gladden@tennessee.edu)

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