Clemson Graduate Who Rapped His Dissertation Becomes Hip-Hop Professor
A.D. Carson turned in an album as his dissertation and ended up becoming a hip-hop professor for the University of Virginia.
Earlier this year Carson turned in Owning My Masters: The Rhetorics Of Rhymes & Revolutions, a 34-track album that served as his doctoral dissertation, where he then received his Ph.D. in rhetorics, communication and information design from Clemson University. Ultimately, his unconventional dissertation caught the attention of the University of Virginia’s music department, where he will now work as Assistant Professor of Hip-Hop and the Global South.
In an interview with NPR, Carson said he was inspired to create his dissertation from attending Clemson, which is built on the grounds of a former plantation owned by pro-slavery statesman John C. Calhoun.
“John C. Calhoun’s house is open seven days a week…at the center of the campus,” Carson said. “The more that I found myself speaking up and speaking out about the ways that history and current circumstances were intertwined there — in the layout of the place and the ways that people interact with one another there — the more I felt that people were not listening to my voice.”
“People dress up as the historic characters who made Clemson possible, but then ignore the fact that there were enslaved people who helped to build the buildings that were there,” he continued. “Much of what is going on currently — if we think about exploited labor, if we think about amateur athletes — like, these things seem to resonate in some way that we’re not acknowledging at all.”
The course that Carson will teach is called “Writing Rap,” a composition class for music students where they will learn about hip-hop history and write their own rhymes. “You can imagine a composition-of-rap course being similar to a composition course where you’re learning to write an argumentative essay,” Carson said.