SOC 1201 (SPRING 2020)

That’s what hip-hop is. It’s Sociology and English put to a beat. ~Talib Kweli

Tuesdays/Thursdays, 11:00 am – 12:15pm in James Hall Rm. 3613

Office: 3103a James Hall (across from the elevators)
Weekly Drop-In Hours: T/Th 4-5pm & by appointment

Instructor: Dr. Donna-Lee Granville

Course Description

Buried in the many headlines of 2017 was this news story about America’s music consumption: for the first time hip-hop was more popular than rock. This fact reflects hip-hop’s contemporary evolution into a multi-billion-dollar industry consumed worldwide. It also obscures hip-hop’s modest beginnings as the art form of choice for marginalized black and brown youth living in the disinvested 1970’s South Bronx. Though often reduced to rap alone, hip-hop is much more than a musical genre. It is also “a style of dress, dialect and language, way of looking at the world, and an aesthetic” (Aldridge and Stewart, 2005).

With that understanding as our foundation, this class uses a sociological lens to explore hip-hop’s significance beyond mere beats and rhymes. Through films, songs and critical readings we will discuss the social forces that influenced hip hop’s formation and evolution as well enable and constrain its future. This is not a music appreciation course so a love of hip hop is not required. Instead, what is required is the ability to think critically about how hip hop culture and music address race, class, gender and sexuality, inequality, police brutality and capitalism among other social issues. Our analysis will not only help you to develop a robust sociological imagination but also to become a more critical cultural consumer.

Course Objectives

By the end of this course, you will be able to:

  1. Apply the sociological imagination, (the ability to see how individual biographies are linked to larger social structures and institutions), to the analysis of social issues addressed in and through hip hop culture.
  2. Understand core sociological debates, methods, and concepts.
  3. Improve critical thinking, writing, and presenting skills.
  4. Demonstrate knowledge of hip-hop history and its evolution.
  5. Discuss the relationship between the social, economic, and political as they exist in hip hop and our society at large.

Course Materials

There is no required text for this course. All course readings can be found on this open educational resource (OER) site. Please see the menu above for the Syllabus, Readings, and other pages.

Unless otherwise noted, content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

This course website contains copyrighted materials available only for your personal, noncommercial educational and scholarly use. This site is used in accordance with the fair use provision, Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act where allowance is made for “fair use” for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, education and research. Every effort has been made to provide attribution of copyrighted content. If you wish to use any copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain expressed permission from the copyright owner. If you are the owner of any copyrighted material that appears on this site and believe the use of any such material does not constitute “fair use”, please contact Professor Donna Granville to have the content removed, if proven necessary.

This open educational resource was created as part of the CUNY and SUNY 2017-19 Open Educational Resources Initiatives. Governor Andrew Cuomo and the NY State Legislature awarded CUNY and SUNY $16 million to implement open educational resources to develop, enhance and institutionalize new and ongoing open educational resources across both universities.

Special thanks to the CUNY Office of Academic Affairs, the CUNY Office of Library Services, Brooklyn College Administration and Professor Miriam Deutch, Coordinator, Brooklyn College Open Educational Resources Initiative. Site design and formatting by Colin McDonald, OER Developer.

Header image: Angie Linder on Flickr, CC