Skip to main content Skip to secondary navigation

PWR 2TB: Hip Hop, Orality, and Dialect Diversity

Main content start

Catalog Number: PWR 2TB

Instructor: Tessa Brown

Quarters offered 2021-2022: Not offered


Fall 2021: Not offered

Winter 2022: Not offered

Spring 2022: Not offered

Units: 4

Grade option: Letter (ABCD/NP) 

Prerequisite: PWR 1, ESF, ITALIC 95W, or equivalent

Course Feature: WR-2 requirement

In this section of PWR 2, students will use hiphop language and culture as an entry point into learning about the diversity of the ways that languages are used and transformed in speech, writing, and multimedia, particularly in the U.S. context. Looking at hiphop culture will introduce us to the history of hybridized and African-descended speech practices, including what’s called Ebonics or Black English, and the histories and politics that surround so-called standard and nonstandard language practices. Looking at hiphop texts and beyond, we’ll consider what songs, spoken word performances, literary, and scholarly texts have to teach us about the wide variety of language practices and the strategies those in power use to standardize and limit these variegated expressive forms.

Students’ independent research will drive the bulk of the course and can range widely in scope, whether students want to focus on language and composing practices in hiphop or look at issues of language diversity and discrimination in education and testing; civil rights struggles in domestic, indigenous, and international communities or governments; or language blending in film, television, or social media. In this course, students will be invited to bring their own passions and cultures to the work of researching, writing, and speaking about language diversity.

Major Assignments

Research Proposal

(5-minute live oral presentation; written text of 900-1200 words) For this assignment, you'll propose a research project that investigates a specific aspect of language diversity in the context of hiphop or pop culture, education, civil rights, or another area. You'll compose your proposal in both written and oral form to develop an understanding of how changes in medium affect the delivery of an argument.

Written Research-Based Argument

(3000-3600 words; 10-12 pages) You'll develop your initial investigation into a full engagement with some aspect of language diversity. You'll be encouraged to supplement your secondary research with primary research (i.e. fieldwork, interviews, participating in blogging or an online discussion forum), as appropriate to your topic.

Delivery of Research

(10-minute live oral presentation with appropriate multimedia support) You will deliver your argument as an oral presentation, relying on multimedia support such as slides, film clips, or other visual aids. This presentation will be an opportunity to experiment with academic language practices and use hybridized language practices in your own speech in order to communicate your argument more fully.

Genre/Modes Assignment

(500-800 word text, a 2-4 minute audio recording, or a 2-4 minute video) For this assignment, you'll experiment with translating your research argument into another genre and mode of your choosing (such as a podcast, a vlog, a series of blog posts, or even a hiphop track).