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The Learning Conference 2003

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Hip-Hop Texts and Textual Preferences: An Intergenerational Perspective

Tara Alice Richardson, Donna Alvermann.

This paper reports on potential connections between Hip-Hop texts and youth's textual preferences. The data sources for the examples we give are from two studies: a content analysis of 21 7th graders' engagement in critically evaluating Hip-Hop texts and a cross-case analysis of 30 middle schoolers' interpretations of and uses for these texts.

Kids of the Net Generation, some 20 million strong, engage in multiple literacy practices–e.g., they email, Instant Message, surf the Web, read video game magazines for tips on how to win, participate in online chat rooms, read bulleted information on teacher handouts, but they do very little reading from the traditional textbook (Moore, Bean, Birdyshaw and Rycik, 1999).

Are these the literacies of the Net Generation only, or are they similarly our literacies--inclusive of the preservice teachers, classroom teachers, university professors, and researchers amongst us? To Hagood, Stevens, and Reinking's (2002) way of thinking, "understanding literacies within and across generations is not a matter of defining what the term literacy means [or in our case Hip-Hop texts], but rather what these terms imply in various contexts to furthering or undermining the stability of the fixed categorical understandings, such as generational literacies" (p. 79).

In the present paper, therefore, we look at our data sources not through some so-called adult lens (say that of the teacher, researcher, and so on), but rather through the lens of the user–that is, someone who regardless of generational labels participates daily in popular culture, whether hip-hop, movies, video games, magazines, etc.


Tara Alice Richardson  (United States)
Doctoral Student
Department of Reading Education
University of Georgia

I am currently a doctoral student at the University of Georgia. For the past five years, I taught middle school English in Cleveland, Ohio. My interests range from cultural literacy, post-structuralist theory, and popular culture to adolescent literature, media literacy, and feminist pedagogy.

Donna Alvermann  (United States)

  • Hip-Hop
  • Youth/Popular culture
  • Intergenerational

(30 min Conference Paper, English)