Breaking Atoms: Reading Hip Hop as Literature: (9/30/2009, 4/7-11/2010)

full name / name of organization: 
Northeast Modern Language Association

NeMLA 2010 Convention, Montreal, April 7-11, 2010

"Breaking Atoms," a seminal but often ignored 1991 rap album by the group Main Source,is the title of this panel, which invites papers that attempt something actually quite rare in academic encounters with hip hop: applying the art of close reading to rap lyrics. Born at the height of the Era of Theory, hip hop never had a New Critical phase. Hence, rap's richness and complexity, obscured by ideologically oriented critical paradigms, are often left untapped. Unapologetically but not uncritically embracing the tenets of New Criticism, this panel seeks papers whose primary purpose is to break open the rap lyric, a critical encounter which should foreground the complexity of the literary/hip hop object itself. Papers examining any style, region, or era of American rap music are welcome: East Coast, West Coast, Third Coast, gangsta, dirty south, underground, alternative, etc. Aside from its primary purpose of celebrating the explication of hip hop texts, then panel might explore the implications of hip hop's never having had--like most belletristic texts--its New Critical moment. Please send abstracts of 500 words or less to Tim Strode at

Please include with your abstract:
Name and Affiliation
Email address
Postal address
Telephone number
A/V requirements (if any; $10 handling fee)
The 41st Annual Convention will feature approximately 350 sessions, as well as dynamic speakers and cultural events. Details and the complete Call for Papers for the 2010 Convention can be found here:
Interested participants may submit abstracts to more than one NeMLA session; however panelists can only present one paper (panel or seminar). Convention participants may present a paper at a panel and also present at a creative session or participate in a roundtable.
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