Saturday, February 6, 2016

African American Literatures and Cultures Institute at a Glance

Each June since, we've run the African American Literatures and Cultures Institute (AALCI) at the University of Texas at San Antonio. The program was created by the good phenomenal sister, Joycelyn Moody. 

AALCI assists students interested in graduate study by providing students with GRE instruction and assistance with graduate application materials. Throughout the summer, we cover a range of black studies readings, and conclude with a research and cultural trip to New York City. Students receive a small stipend, and abundant intellectual nourishment.

Here's a glance at some of our activities with the past 6 cohorts of AALCI Fellows. 

Institute fellow at the Strand Bookstore in NYC, 2015

Institute course packet 2014

Institute fellow presents at AALCI poster session, 2013

Fellows participate in discussion, 2012

 Art Collector Harriet Kelley discusses paintings with AALCI Fellows, 2012

Fellows cover reading materials during discussion, 2011

Fellows cover archival materials, 2010

AALCI 2015
AALCI 2014
AALCI 2013
AALCI 2012
AALCI 2011
AALCI 2010


Friday, June 26, 2015

How many questions does Bridget Drinka ask per minute?

Try this. Add up the number of questions you raised in a recent presentation and combine that with the number of questions you heard posed in presentations by two additional presenters. Got it? Ok.

I'm willing to wager that the combined total number of questions from those three presentations are less than the total number of questions Professor Bridget Drinka posed during the course of her single presentation on June 18, for our AALCI Fellows. Put another way, she asks more questions than we do.

I've studied and written about Professor Drinka's presentation style for years now trying to figure out what makes her so effective conveying ideas and engaging the students in our program. Is it her knowledge as a historical linguist and her skills as a data artist? Is it her expertise as a map maker? It's likely all of that, but more.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Black women, posing, and selfies

AALCI Fellows Ayesha, Fullamusu, and Tia, Take #1

AALCI Fellows Ayesha, Fullamusu, and Tia, Take #2

One of the cool, unexpected outcomes of AALCI this summer was getting to observe a few of the Fellows taking these varied approaches to selfies. Seems like a small, trivial matter, right? Actually, it was a serious medium for self and communal expression among these young sisters, especially Fullamusu, Bianca, and Tia.

Each of them had different, distinct styles for presenting themselves on their phones. Tia, a lyrical artist and rap enthusiast, would often pose with an exaggerated tough, mean look. Fullamusu was inclined to take on multiple, exuberant, hyped-up happy faces. Bianca sought to project a regal appearance; she would stand straight and poised, usually enlisting someone else to use her phone to snap the image.

Taken together, they produced a diverse mix of three photographer-photo subjects. I was glad to be a witness.

AALCI in New York City 2015

We traveled with our 6th cohort for our annual scholarly excursion to New York City. 

During our time in the city, we visited: a major exhibition featuring painter Jacob Lawrence's Migration Series, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, an exhibit on hip hop at the Museum of the City of New York, the African Burial Ground, and an exhibit on Basquiat at the Brooklyn Museum. Oh, and of course, we also visited the Strand Bookstore.

A few images from the trip.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Design Notes: Ayesha Malik

By Ayesha Malik

I emblazoned my poster with a fusion of two worlds: Hip Hop and Islam. I decided upon the green-yellow color scheme because green is considered the traditional color of Islam and I felt yellow would complement the green well, in terms of providing contrast. I labored, very meticulously, on the title of my poster, "Islam, Hip Hop's (Un)official Religion" because I wanted to illuminate the intersection of these two distinct realms. Being a typography geek, I chose to hand-draw and hand-cut my title. I chose an Arabic script-inspired font for the title, as Arabic is the language of Islam.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Asia Mott's Poster Presentation

Design notes: Asia Mott
Poster Presentation
AALCI 2015

Ayesha Malik's Poster Presentation

I, first, demonstrate the uniqueness of my work by explicating how Islam played a role in the development of Hip Hop as a cultural movement, from a linguistic perspective. Islamic ideology evoked lyrical inspiration for many artists who are part of the Hip Hop canon (e.g., Wu-Tang Clan, Jay Z, Lauryn Hill, Yasiin Bey, Talib Kweli). Despite this, the incorporation of Islamic references into Hip Hop Nation Language (HHNL) is scarcely studied.

Continuing from there, I included the four distinctive patterns of Islamic influence in HHNL that my research discusses: (1) word formation in acronyms and backronyms like “C.R.E.A.M.” (Cash Rules Everything Around Me) and "ALLAH” (Arm, Leg, Leg, Arm, Head); (2) slang such as “peace, God” and “wassup, G”; (3) the use of spoken Islamic Arabic features and inclusion of Quranic verses; and (4) speech acts that reflect Islamic teachings in songs like Lupe Fiasco’s “Muhammad Walks.” Next, I discuss the implications of this project and how this research would be significant in the world beyond academia. I explain how the stereotypes and attitudes associated with both Islam and Hip Hop are dangerous, while also discussing Islamic HHNL as a form of conscious discourse and an expression of community and identity. Lastly, I explain the way in which I conduct my research and include an example of what my data set might look like. I examine Islamic influences in the lyrics of various Hip Hop artists who have a direct religious affiliation to Islam or an associated act. I also use videos of interviews with some of these artists discussing their use of Islamic influences for additional data. --Ayesha Malik

Poster Presentation
AALCI 2015