Saturday, May 21, 2016

Talking comic books, rap music, and African American literary studies

Good thing everyone was buckled in. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to have a wide-ranging, twisting and turning conversation about comic books, rap music, African American literature, and African American literary studies with the homegirl Courtney Thorsson -- a literary at the University of Oregon (UO) -- and her partner, Peter. It's not everyday that you get a block of time to talk through those fields like that.

Not sure where we began, but one early, opening discussion was this piece "Rapping, deconstructed: the best rhymers of all time" on Vox breaking down the science of rhyme patterns. From there we were off talking through the music in general. I'm fresh off this "Biggie, Jay Z, or Nas" course on rap, so my mind's been running. The article and conversation were giving me ideas for the next steps in the process of teaching on rap.

Ok, at some point or in between the talk on Nas and MF Doom and Outkast and ev'erybody else, we shifted to talking comics. Yeah, we talked Coates on the Black Panther. But we also talked comic bookstores, my pull list, the nature of comic books getting really weird, variant issues, the current Entertaining Comics exhibit at UO, and so forth.

Courtney and I teach African American literature, so, I suppose, we might as well say a little something about that. We did. But more important for me, we got a chance to talk about some of the places where the field is headed. And not.

I'm wondering now if some of the stagnation and barriers in the field are related to our inability to get more wide-ranging conversations like we were having yesterday. Just in case that's one of the problems, I'll try to keep conversing with folks, and I'll work to keep this place here lively and usefully scattered.  

African American Literary Studies

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