(Ed’s note…this has been in drafts too long, but i’ll update it later (maybe) with images, some missing assignments I haven’t included yet, links and sound. Enjoy. It’s been a busy Oct-Nov)
Hey y’all. So my students are through one paper cycle and on to the second. The first cycle focused on close reading – we looked at a lot of songs in class, their paper assignment was to close read “We Don’t Care” or “All Falls Down,” and for homework we were reading 2 books that did close reading of their own: Elijah Anderson’s Code of the Street and James Cone’s The Spirituals and the Blues.
Now we are into our second paper cycle, where we’re working on making more complex arguments by putting two texts in dialogue with each other. Their second paper assignment (which you will see below) asks them to put a claim from one of the books (Cone or Anderson) in dialogue with a claim from The College Dropout. For homework we are reading Tricia Rose’s book Black Noise, and taking lessons from her about how to make arguments using multiple sources. So, if you have Black Noise you can follow along!
LESSON PLAN 6.1: Black Noise, “Two Words,” and Finding Claims
1. Exploring the introduction and ch.1 of Black Noise.
- Close read the title of the book. What is “black noise”? What meanings does that phrase have to Rose?
- Rose is very present in the introduction. Why might she identify herself so clearly? What is gained/lost by her presence in the text?
- Close read to understand the title of ch. 1″ “Voices from the Margins: Rap Music and Black Cultural Production.” What does “cultural production” mean? (2 interpretations of word “culture”)
2. Remember the 2 parts to an argument? Claim/statement of opinion + defense with reasons and evidence. On pp. 1-3 Rose makes a lot of claims.
- In pairs isolate 3 claims Rose makes in her first few pages. Work to understand them and then think, what evidence will she need to show us to defend that claim?
- Go over some examples in class–understand Rose’s argument – note that reading her text critically will involve looking for/at her evidence. Suggest students keep their eyes peeled on how Rose manages different types of sources
3. Listen, looking for claims, to “Two Words”
- In pairs, focus on one verse – via this poetic language, what claims are Mos Def, Kanye making?
4. Hand out Paper 2 Assignment:
Pre-write assignment due Mon 10/22 (bring to class):
To prepare for your second paper, please write 2 preparatory paragraphs. In the first, isolate a claim and synthesize the argument for that claim as elaborated by EITHER Elijah Anderson in Code of the Street OR James Cone in The Spirituals and the Blues. In another paragraph, bring in a claim made anywhere on The College Dropout by Kanye West or one of his guest artists and begin to suggest how this claim challenges, confirms or adjusts the claim described in the first paragraph.
Paper 2 Assignment:
For your second paper, in 6 pages, please compare a claim made by Anderson or Cone with a claim made by West or one of his guest artists. Your paper should propose an argument about the relationship between these two claims, by using one to challenge, extend, or adjust the other.
This assignment asks a few things of you: identify and discuss a claim made by either Anderson OR Cone in the course of his work. Discuss and assess the ways in which the author presents and defends his claim, noting the strategies he uses to make his argument. Examine evidence from The College Dropout to critique or qualify the author’s claims. How do comments made by Kanye West or one of his guest artists challenge, confirm, or complicate the claims presented by the writer you considered? Or, conversely, how do claims made by Anderson or Cone challenge, confirm, or complicate claims made by West or one of his guests?
Successful thesis statements will make an argument about the relationship between two texts, not about the nature of an issue in the world. Successful papers will shed new light on both the book you choose and the song in question, by drawing innovative connections between the two. Please do not use outside evidence besides those detailed above—focus on the texts and what they can tell us about each other!
LESSON PLAN 6.2: Using structure in arguments about multiple texts
UPDATE: Ok, I just saved this as a draft for 5 weeks. But I am going to valiantly pick up right here and soldier on. Where were we…Week 6? Using structure, you say? DO IT.
1. Rose Ch. 2 “All Aboard the Night Train”: Flow, Layering and Rupture in Postindustrial New York – what is Rose’s argument about in this chapter
- pp. 23-25 on black music at crossroads in American history- examine each paragraph to see how Rose handles introducing another scholarly source. What was Willis’s claim? Rose’s critique? How does she incorporate what she wants to use from his argument into hers? (scavenger research)
- pp. 38-39 on flow, layering and rupture – what’s Rose’s argument about hiphop style? how is it related to the postindustrial urban context?
2. For today, students had to write a 2-paragraph Paper 2 prewrite (above)
- make sure your partner’s two claims are clearly articulated, with evidence, whether implicit or explicit
- Make sure the book claim is analytical, not factual
- How well did your partner give context/trace argument behind that claim?
- Raise 3 questions about the relationship between 2 sources – which text is the argument about? – discuss a few
- Reminder: be aware of complexity – no 100% correspondence
WEEK 7.1. NO CLASS – whew!
WEEK 7.2 – sample workshop
For this class, we got into our workshop groups so the groups could interpersonally gel for a class-long workshop-style activity on structure. I handed out a sample pre-write that used Rose instead of Anderson or Cone:
I explained that this is a way for us to think more about ch. 2 of Rose and practice complex structure. Then I asked students to read the prewrite closely and critique it like they did their partner in the previous class: looking for how well the claims are articulated, raising 3 questions, looking back at Rose to see if her concepts are fully engaged. Then we listened to “Family Business,” the lyrics to which are not included in their coursepack: the idea is to force them (on a rare occasion) to actually listen to how sounds are used and manipulated in the song. I asked them to take notes as to where they noticed flow, layering or rupture in the song, and then we filled up the board (I made them write) with what they noticed. #Crowdsourcing !! Then I returned them to their groups and asked them to write a thesis for Hypothetical Tessa, to push her argument, to decide which text is the subject of the hypothetical essay and which is a tool being used to make that argument, and finally to write out a structure for this paper. At the end of class, we came together and compared what arguments we made (trying, always trying, to make them more specific) and compared structures. Womp, womp!
WEEK 8.1. – WORKSHOP! SCORE!
Things to look out for as you workshop:
- Introduction: is it clear what the 2 texts are, and how they’re related?
- Is evidence closely analyzed?
- Structure: is information given as needed? Are concepts clear? Are discussions of a single text split up in awkward ways?
- MAKE SUGGESTIONS. Push the argument to be more specific, to be its best
- Play with at least 1 big change – what would make this essay more readable, organized, specific? It is okay to ask WHAT IF.
WEEK 8.2 I CANCELLED THIS CLASS TO GO TO A CONFERENCE. SWEET!
1. Rose ch. 3 – “Soul Sonic Forces: Technology, Orality and Black Cultural Practice in Rap Music”
- Close read the title of this chapter to remind us of its argument- how do (and what are) “technology, orality and black cultural practice” in the context of Rose’s argument?
- #Crowdsourcing : Split into small groups and find at least 3 places where Rose answers the question, “Why might a rap artist choose to use sampling in their music?” EG WHY SAMPLE –> write that shiz on the board
2. Listen “Spirit in the Dark” by Aretha Franklin – what is it about? how does the music sound? what is the mood or attitude of the song? what values does Franklin preach? what does she mean by “spirit”?
3. Listen “School Spirit” by Kanye West – what is it about? how does the music sound? attitude/mood? values? “spirit”?
- Why might Kanye sample Aretha– how do the songs intersect?
4. Could we make an argument using Rose’s concepts (on the board- WHY SAMPLE?) that makes a claim about the effects/uses of this Aretha Franklin sample in “School Spirit”? Small groups:
- brainstorm possible arguments
- everyone write 1-2 sentences on how you will use rose to make an argument about Kanye’s sample of Franklin
- how would you structure this essay? outline it as a group
- Come back together as a class, think bout structure a lil’ more. Ask: how long would this paper be? (Cuz one day your teacher is gonna say, “Write ten pages about anything we’ve covered this semester.” Word.)
WEEK 9.2 – Sorry, this was a kind of disjointed session
1. MLA – In which I quickly read through my own MLA style guide
2. Signifying – in which we look at an assigned excerpt of Henry Louis Gates’ The Signifying Monkey (and in which conversation I mentioned that “That’s what she said” is a kind of signifying, because it takes your inane statement – “Just put them [the groceries] in the back [of the car]” and sexualizes it through an implicit repetition and reversal to highlight physicality)
3. Listen – “School Spirit Skit” #1 and #2 – How is this signifying? on What?
3. Rose ch. 4, “Prophets of Rage: Rap Music and the Politics of Black Cultural Expression”
- small groups: who are the parties involved in the political encounters in this chapter? –> board
- read public/hidden transcripts together (100)
- What are the hidden transcripts in the “School Spirit” skits? What public transcripts are they criticizing? Using what methods as Rose describes?
1. Rose ch 5 – “Bad Sistas: Black Women Rappers and Sexual Politics in Rap Music”
- How does Rose use the concept of dialogue (147-148) in her chapter’s argument? Who are black women rappers in dialogue with?
- Thinking about hidden/public transcripts in the context of this chapter–> partners look at excerpts of either Salt N’Pepa’s “Traamp” or MC Lyte’s “Paper Thin” and ask what hidden transcripts are these women rappers articulating? What public transcripts are they criticizing?
2. Paper 3 assignment: Cultural Study
3. Listen: Kanye’s “New Workout Plan”
- What does Rose’s chapter tell us about male sexual narratives that we could look for in West
- Note he’s signifying on a workout video
- Listen: is West sexist or critiquing sexism? Or both?
- Can we interrogate his attitudes about gender, power, relationships?