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Commentary

Readin', Writin', Rappin'

January 13, 2002|BRUCE KLUGER

Beyond questions of grading, one cause of the public discord between Harvard President Lawrence H. Summers and Cornel West, the university's controversial professor of African American studies, was West's CD recording, "Sketches of My Culture," which included hip-hop ruminations on such subjects as Malcolm X, the slave trade and the "N word."

Given the two educators' apparent rapprochement recently, might the storied institution now be ready to incorporate rap music as a viable method of instruction?

Will Harvard Yard soon ring with such stirring verses as:

Art History

Seurat did dots,

Matisse saw red,

Picasso painted eyes on the side of the head.

Van Gogh was whack,

Degas was the bomb,

And Whistler made a bundle from a picture of his mom.

Econ 101

Balance sheets, bottom lines,

Quarterly reports,

Mergers/acquisitions is the sport of all sports.

Buy low, sell high,

Everybody sing:

"One of these days I'll be the dot-com king!"

Women's Studies

Susan B. Anthony

knew to rock the boat.

Carrie Chapman Catt told the ladies they could vote.

Stanton was relentless,

and Steinem unforgiving.

So how did we end up with "Martha Stewart Living"?

Philosophy

Nietzsche dissed God,

Plato was The Word,

Hume was a skeptic, and Sartre was absurd.

Marx copped from Hegel,

Kant caused a buzz,

Descartes thought a lot (and therefore he was).

Political Science

One dude, one vote,

No one on the take.

The democratic system guarantees a fair shake.

But forget the spin,

The country's been had.

It all comes down to a perforated chad.

English Lit

Fitzgerald dug the rich,

Dickens liked the poor,

Milton lost his Paradise (and still remained a snore).

The Brontes were sista's,

Byron was a fop,

And Joyce would start a sentence that he really couldn't stop.

Music Appreciation

Mozart wrote 'em large,

Verdi had 'em sing,

Ludwig banged out awesome stuff (and couldn't hear a thing!).

Their melodies were marvels,

Their genius was sublime,

Then Napster copped their copyrights, and didn't pay a dime.

World History

The Ottoman Empire

didn't know jack,

Their ever-growing borders made 'em easy to attack.

Then Suleiman died,

His armies got cuffed,

And Otto took a powder while da' Turkey got stuffed

Planetary Science

Mountains made of magma,

Coral in our seas,

Biospheric beauty that could bring you to your knees.

For such a fertile planet,

We really shouldn't boast.

According to astronomers, the ozone layer's toast.

*

Bruce Kluger writes columns for Us Weekly and Salon.com.

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