A Clemson Ph.D. candidate is making history with his innovative doctoral dissertation.
Instead of writing a traditional dissertation, A.D. Carson decided to produce a 34-track album titled “Owning My Masters: The Rhetorics of Rhymes and Revolutions,” using rap music to tackle issues like economics, language, justice and identity.
The unusual medium is a first for Clemson University dissertations, but Carson said the format is one with which he’s familiar.
“I had people ask, ‘Are you doing this just to be provocative? Is this a gimmick?’ My response is ‘absolutely not.’ This is my way of being in the world,” he said. “Both my senior and master’s theses were on music that I’d been making, so at this point I figure, you don’t get to the one-yard line — to use a metaphor that Clemson will understand — and then put the ball down.”
He has been mentored by Chenjerai Kumanyika, a Clemson communications professor and former hip-hop musician. Kumanyika described his pupil’s project as “virtuosic” and said it showcases his deep understanding of these issues.
Carson credits this to his time at Clemson.
“I would not have been able to do the work or learn what I’ve been able to learn had it not been for coming here,” he said. “The challenges and the triumphs are all a product of this particular space, and my critical perspective has been sharpened here.”
“Owning My Masters” has already received tens of thousands of listens on YouTube and SoundCloud.
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