Academy's 'Hip' New Offerings

By Weiger, Pamela | Black Issues in Higher Education, December 7, 2000 | Go to article overview

Academy's 'Hip' New Offerings


Weiger, Pamela, Black Issues in Higher Education


ACADEMY'S `HIP' NEW OFFERINGS: How good is your hip-hop knowledge?

If most of this information is outside of your knowledge base, you won't pass Dr. James E. Newton's course at the University of Delaware. Newton, a professor of Black American studies and senior fellow at the Center for Community Development and Family Policy, began teaching an experimental hip-hop course two years ago.

"I originally wanted to see whether this was a real, new dimension in American culture," Newton says. "There is definitely an audience and a following, but it's not something students discuss with their parents."

Today, "Hip-Hop Culture in the American Society," is an upper level undergraduate/graduate course at the university, and the questions above are part of a 100-item knowledge inventory the professor uses as a multiple choice test for his students. The hodge-podge knowledge inventory Newton created covers the gamut of hip-hop: history, music, players and slang. In addition, Newton quizzes students on their ability to visually identify 50 to 75 slides of hip-hop's big-wigs.

While there is still some bias in the academic community about the scholarly value of such studies -- as there once was with nascent Black History courses, for sure -- hip-hop classes are starting to catch on. Here is a sampling of some of the courses currently being offered at colleges and universities across the country.

- "Hip-Hop: Politics and Popular Culture in Late 20th Century United States," University of Connecticut

Assistant professor of history Jeffrey Ogbar examines the development of hip-hop and its manifestations in the realm of music, visual art, fashion and language among American youth. The course tracks the emergence of rap music in New York City in the mid-1970s through its evolution into a multimillion-dollar industry, covering the dynamics of race, youth, class and provincialism.

- "Pawer Moves: Hip-Hop Culture and Sociology," University of California-Berkeley

"Hip-hop has become a global culture," according to Halifu Osumare, a lecturer in African American Studies who teaches the new hip-hop course at UC Berkeley. …

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