PWR 194ABA: Contemporary Black Rhetorics: Prince


Prince’s music and life
Liberated Black music
Liberated Black Theology
Liberated Black Masculinity
Liberated Black People
-Dereca Blackmon, “Beyond Definition: The Black Liberation Theology of Prince”
African American Rhetoric is concerned with both the liberation of Black people and their participation in all facets of life in a multi-ethnic, multicultural society. As a field of study, it traces the arc of strategic language use by African Americans as incorporated in forms such as slave narratives, spirituals, poetry, fiction, speeches, music, film, memes and other forms of online discourse.
-Keith Gilyard and Adam Banks, On African American Rhetoric
Black music in all its genres, styles and eras has always been about freedom and transformation.  About both Black people and the whole society.  About the US Black experience, the African continent and the diaspora. These musical forms and the social movements they reflect and help shape are therefore central to the study of African American rhetoric. From overtly translating the ideas of social movements for mass audiences, to capturing the mood of a moment or move, to reflecting and influencing the aesthetics and styles that attend public discourse, to simply being a space where debates get worked out in community, music in Black traditions are as important a space of engagement as political speeches, sermons, websites, or even #BlackTwitter.
This course will examine Prince’s music, life and impact and their relationship to both social movements and everyday dialogue and debate to introduce African American Rhetoric as a field of study. Students in the course will trace specific themes in Prince’s music throughout his career, write an album review, and create a blog on some aspect of Prince

Meet the Instructor(s)

Adam Banks

Professor of Education

Committed teacher. Midnight Believer. A Slow Jam in a Hip Hop world. Cerebral and silly, outgoing and a homebody. Vernacular and grounded but academic and idealistic too. Convinced that Donny Hathaway is the most compelling artist of the entire soul and funk era, and that we still don't give Patrice Rushen enough love. I'm a crate digger, and DJ with words and ideas, and I believe that the people, voices and communities we bring with us to Stanford are every bit as important as those with which we engage here at Stanford.

Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, I come to Stanford from the University of Kentucky, where I served on the faculty of the Department of Writing, Rhetoric and Digital Studies and prior to that, from Syracuse University, as a member of the faculty of the Writing Program. In addition to these appointments I served as the Langston Hughes Visiting Professor of English at the University of Kansas and, jointly with Andrea Lunsford, as the Rocky Gooch Visiting Professor for the Bread Loaf School of English.

My scholarship lies at the intersections of writing, rhetoric and technology issues; my specialized interests include African American rhetoric, community literacy, digital rhetorics and digital humanities. My most recent book is titled Digital Griots: African American Rhetoric in a Multimedia Age, and my current digital/book project is titled Technologizing Funk/Funkin Technology: Critical Digital Literacies and the Trope of the Talking Book.