Religion and Hip-Hop Culture
Instead of focusing on how hip-hop and religion clash, Rapper Bun B of the iconic Southern hip-hop duo UGK co-taught this course to unpack the similarities between the two. “We’re showing instances where hip-hop and religion have the same goals and ideology in common within the context of the culture,” Bun B told HipHopDx.com earlier this year.
Captions by Akoto Ofori-Atta
Grammy Award-winning DJ and producer 9th Wonder put his professorial headphones on with this course he taught with Mark Anthony Neal. Centered on Neal’s book, What the Music Said: Black Popular Music and Black Popular Culture, the class touched on all things soul and pop, from intellectual property rights to Nas’ 1994 classic, Illmatic.
What's So Great About 'The Wire'?
University of California, Berkeley
Film studies scholar Linda Williams, intrigued by the show’s reputation as the best TV show to broadcast in America, compared The Wire to works from classic writers like Charles Dickens, and asked students to consider the reasons behind the show’s popularity. Harvard, Syracuse and Washington State University-Spokane are just a few of the schools that have offered courses on the popular TV show.
Lady Gaga and the Sociology of Fame
University of South Carolina
In this course, students didn’t listen to Gaga music or watch her videos, since the focus was less on Lady Gaga the artist and more on the sociology behind her out-of-this-world rise to fame. Professor Mathieu Deflem used the star’s celebrity to examine marketing, gay culture, religion, politics, sexuality and New York City.
The N-Word: An Anatomy Lesson
Arizona State University
“I was curious to see if the discussion of one of the most provocative words in the English language could sustain a rigorous intellectual discussion for 15 weeks,” said professor Neal Lester. He challenged students to think about the word’s “shifting use” in American culture, illustrated in his course by a viewing of a famous Saturday Night Live clip in which Chevy Chase and Richard Pryor spew racial slurs at each other.
Introduction to Turntablism
Aspiring DJs at Oberlin University learned the basics of the trade in one semester of this class. Students brushed up on sampling, beatmatching, laptop DJing and scratching. The exciting part? Each DJ-to-be paid $35 toward the purchase of two turntables, which were given to the winners of a DJ battle at the end of the semester.
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History of Electronic Dance Music
From its roots in 1960s soul, electronic dance music has been a staple of popular culture. This class considered it all: the genre’s origins, its technological components, club culture and the drugs that create the trippy electro-dance atmosphere.