Date of Award

Summer 8-1-2010

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Women's Studies

First Advisor

Amira Jarmakani

Second Advisor

Layli Maparyan

Third Advisor

Juliana Kubala

Abstract

This thesis interrogates gangsta hip-hop for the unique attention it plays to the drug trade. I read theories of hypervisibility/invisibility and Louis Althusser’s theory of interpellation alongside hip-hop feminist theory to examine the Black female criminal subjectivity that operates within hip-hop. Using methods of discourse analysis, I question the constructions of gangster femininity in rap lyrics as well as the absences of girlhood on Season 4 of HBO’s television drama The Wire. In doing so, I argue that the discursive construction of Black female subjectivity within gangsta hip-hop provides a hypervisibility that portrays Black women as violent while simultaneously erasing the broader social processes that impact the lives of Black women and girls. Hip-hop feminism allows the cultural formations of hip-hop to be read against the politics that structure the lives of women of color in order to provide a lens for analyzing how their criminality is constructed through media.

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