Department Chair

Lisa Berglund, Ph.D., Chair and Professor of English

Date of Award


Access Control

Campus-Only Access

Degree Name

English, M.A.


English Department


Karen Sands-O’Connor, Ph.D., Professor of English

Department Home page

First Reader

Jennifer D. Ryan, Ph.D., Associate Professor of English

Second Reader

David N. Ben-Merre, Ph.D., Associate Professor of English


Rap Aesthetics and the Postmodern Imaginary

Of the many extant critical analyses of rap poetry, there have been relatively few that focus strictly on form and medium. Given the world-wide dissemination of hip-hop culture and the unique rhetorical devices practiced in rap, this project aims to realize a better formal understanding of rap aesthetics as a postmodern art movement which, in turn, can offer some elucidation of postmodern thought and culture. Specifically, I draw some conclusions about the idea of writing after print culture. I turn to Marjorie Perloff for a broad definition of postmodern poetics which my readings will build from. Perloff underscores post-structural formations of linguistic structure and technological mediation as two of the main currents in poetics since the middle to late 20th century. I use the critical concepts of Jacques Derrida, Jean Baudrillard, and Walter Benjamin to execute studies which investigate these elements of postmodern aesthetics in the form of rap, and as the subject of my readings I have chosen the oeuvre of Ghostface Killah, The RZA, and Nas. These analyses focus on the intersection between technology, writing and the body as well as the paradoxical relationship between alienation and representation in postmodern poetry.


Revisions as per Lisa Berglund, Ph.D. Chair and Professor of English.

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