Empire State of Mind?

by Jason Fertig

This semester, Georgetown University is offering a popular course titled: “Sociology of Hip-Hop: Jay-Z.”

I’ve used clips from Office Space, The Office, and The Apprentice to engage a classroom, but is a whole course based on pop culture going too far?Should there be some push-back at a course where the professor “parses Jay-Z’s lyrics as if analyzing fine literature?”

While some readers may disagree, I have no issue with the class itself. There’s always room for out-of-the-box electives. I took The World of Insects at Rutgers.  

My main concern is that for many students, this course is not a supplement to an otherwise rigorous course load. Georgetown junior Stephen Wu made this argument quite well in an opinion piece in the Georgetown student newspaper:

“It speaks volumes that we engage in the beat of pseudo-music while we scrounge to find serious academic offerings on Beethoven and Liszt. We dissect the lyrics of Big Pimpin’, but we don’t read Spenser or Sophocles closely.”