Spring 2022

Rap, Reagan and the 1980s

Listed in: Black Studies, as BLST-318  |  History, as HIST-318


Stefan Bradley (Section 01)


(Offered as HIST 318 [TC/TR/TS] and BLST 318 [US]) This course will delve into the sociopolitical, economic, and cultural factors that affected the lives of Black youth in the United States during the 1980s. Using rap and hip hop as a tool to understand the decade, the course will explore the racialized implications of America’s cold war with the Soviet Union while detailing the societal impact of “Reaganomics.” In a period featuring culture wars, deindustrialization in urban areas, the arrival of crack cocaine, deep cuts to public school funding, and the invasion of HIV/AIDS, the bourgeoning genre of hip hop reflected the complexities of survival for many Black youth in marginalized American neighborhoods.  As the new artform became a business, America witnessed the realization of a conservative ascendancy that carried Ronald Reagan to the presidency, which transformed political discourse for the subsequent decades. Young scholars in this class will be required to engage book and article-length texts, access and analyze song lyrics, critique visual media, write cogent essays, and present arguments orally.

Spring semester. Professor Bradley.

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: Close analysis of historical evidence, which may include written documents, images, music, films, or statistics from the historical period under study. Exploration of scholarly, methodological, and theoretical debates about historical topics. Extensive reading, varying forms of written work, and intensive in-class discussions. Students with documented disabilities who will require accommodations in this course should be in consultation with Accessibility Services and reach out to the faculty member as soon as possible to ensure that accommodations can be made in a timely manner.

This is preliminary information about books for this course. Please contact your instructor or the Academic Coordinator for the department, before attempting to purchase these books.

ISBN Title Publisher Author(s) Comment Book Store Price
Reconsidering Reagan : racism, Republicans, and the road to Trump Lucks, Daniel Amherst Books TBD
Crack : rock cocaine, street capitalism, and the decade of greed Farber, David Amherst Books TBD
From the war on poverty to the war on crime : the making of mass incarceration in America Hinton, Elizabeth Amherst Books TBD
Hip-hop revolution : the culture and politics of rap Ogbar, Jeffrey Amherst Books TBD
Monster : the autobiography of an L.A. gang member Shakur, Sanyinka Amherst Books TBD
Ronald Reagan and the 1980s : perceptions, policies, legacies Hudson, Cheryl and Gareth Davies. Amherst Books TBD
Infectious Ideas : U. S. Political Responses to the AIDS Crisis Brier, jennifer Amherst Books TBD

These books are available locally at Amherst Books.


Other years: Offered in Spring 2022, Spring 2024