Week 3 (Sounds of Laughter)

Academic Conversation Skill: Quotations and Summaries
Concept: Feminism
Time Period: 1990s

<<<Week 2     ^^^Main Page     Week 4>>>

sol banner

Quotations and Summaries

Capturing Authorial Action

  • X acknowledges/agrees/argues/believes/denies/does not deny/claims/complains/concedes/demonstrates/emphasizes/insists/observes/refutes the claim/reminds us/reports/suggests that ______________. (adapted from Graff and Birkenstein 2006, 165-66)

Introducing Quotations

  • X states, “_____________.”
  • As the prominent philosopher X puts it, “___________.”
  • In her book, ____________, X maintains that “__________.”(adapted from Graff and Birkenstein 2006, 43)


Feminism (Wikipedia)

“…dominant ideologies [commonly held views/beliefs] of gender are such that, in popular culture as a whole, that which is perceived as ‘masculine’ enjoys widespread hegemony [dominance] over that which is described and produced as ‘feminine.’”  (Jarman-Ivens 2007, 3)

“Within African American music history, her [Missy Elliot’s] primary antecedents are bawdy blues belters like Bessie Smith, Big Mama Thornton, Ruth Brown, and Etta James. These women were as sexual and shocking (in their days) as modern rappers, but they applied an uproarious humor to their outrages that accentuated rather than diminished their identities as empowered and self-sustaining women.” (Ellis 2008, 240)

Performance Example (1990s)

This video examines the tradition of African American female performers outlined by Ellis in the quote above (he implies that these women were examples of feminist performers because they presented “identities as empowered and self-sustaining women.”). The clip moves in reverse chronological order: Missy Elliot, “Work It” (2002 – technically from the 2000s, although Elliot rose to fame in the mid-1990s); Etta James, “Something’s Got a Hold on Me” (originally recorded 1962); Ruth Brown, “Mama He Treats Your Daughter Mean” (1955); and Big Mama Thornton, “Hound Dog” (originally recorded in 1952 – Thornton recorded the song several years before it was popularized by Elvis).

See Also:

Bessie Smith on YouTube

Big Mama Thornton on YouTube

Etta James on YouTube

Missy Elliot on YouTube

Ruth Brown on YouTube

Reading Questions

  • What are some examples of ways that popular culture places greater value on male performers/masculinity over female performers/femininity?
  • Can you think of other examples in which female performers use humor as a way to assert their power and agency?
  • If you were to use one of these quotes in an academic paper, how might your introduce the quotation or summary?

Performance Questions

  • What kinds of musical/performance-based elements connect these examples?
  • How do these performers challenge conventional notions of femininity and femaleness?
  • Can you think of other, contemporary examples in which performers use musical humor as a way to challenge notions of gender and/or promote a kind of feminism?


Choose 1-3 quotes from the class readings [see Quote Library] (or you may find your own quotes using additional research time) that relate to your paper topic. Introduce these sources in summary or quotation. Post a Word file. (Due the Friday after class @ 5pm PST)

Additional Sources for Feminism

Davis, Angela Y. 1998. Blues Legacies and Black Feminism: Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday. New York: Pantheon Books.

Jarman-Ivens, Freya. 2007. Oh boy!: Masculinities and popular music. New York: Routledge.

Other 1990s Performers

YouTube Links

Beck, “Sexx Laws” (1999)


Sir Mix a-Lot, “Baby Got Back” (1992)

Snoop Dogg

Blog Posts

[display-posts tag=”week-3″ posts_per_page=”25″ include_date=”true” date_format=”F j, Y” order=”ASC” orderby=”title”]

<<<Week 2     ^^^Main Page     Week 4>>>

Leave a Reply