From Spirituals to Hip Hop Final Project, Spring 2020

Oral Presentation: Have technological changes had a positive or negative effect on black music and the struggle for full citizenship for African Americans?


– Pick one new invention or innovation in audio technology of the past 150 years. This could be something like a piece of hardware, such as the gramophone, the Walkman, or the iPod; a form of software, such as a streaming service or music-sharing platform; a video game; an app; a new method of using existing technology, such as MTV or turntabling; or a new technique for playing, singing, or composing music, etc.

– Based on what you’ve learned in this class about the ways black music has engaged with the struggle for full citizenship for black Americans, do you think that the innovation you chose has had a positive or negative effect on that struggle?

– What impact has that technology had on the willingness of citizens (black and/or non-black) to build what Dr. King called “The Beloved Community”? (See

As you sketch out your ideas, you may want to turn back to some of the readings we’ve explored over the semester, as well as some that I did not require. Some suggestions:

From the CRP:

  • The excerpts from White Tears by Hari Kunzru. (Think about the effects that the remix created by Seth and Carter end up having upon the community, both black and white, past and present.)

From the blog (remember to read all the linked content):

Here are some other readings that you may find helpful as you work on your presentation. For articles not linked here, you can get a hard copy from me upon request:

These are just some suggestions. Do not limit your research to these sources! Use the library, library website, library databases, etc.

I recommend making an appointment with librarian Dana Curtin at or 607-778-5249 to help with your research. She is always happy to help students with research projects!

You will be presenting your work in class on May 14 and 19. Make sure to have audio/video to illustrate your ideas!

Grading Rubric for this project

In order to earn a good grade on this project, you will need to demonstrate your command of the following things:

  1. Your own original idea/thesis/argument.
  2. Evidence that supports your idea, gained through your own research (for instance, through using the sources listed above, and/or other sources of your own choosing, which you should be able to cite/name if asked).
  3. Your ability to present the findings discovered in the course of your research in such a way that your listeners (i.e., me and the rest of the class) can clearly follow your line of reasoning, that is, you present your research in a well-organized format.
  4. Your ability to respond to alternative or opposing perspectives brought up by me and your classmates, and to resolve any questions or contradictions in a logical way.
  5. Your strategic use of digital media in your presentation to enhance your listeners’ understanding of your argument, and to add interest to your presentation.
  6. Your use of context-specific speech, i.e. formal/scholarly English, in your presentation.