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The Intersection of Culture and Science – Hip Hop, Feminism, Sex, & Sexual Selection


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The Intersection of Culture and Science – Hip Hop, Feminism, Sex, & Sexual Selection: That’s essentially what my presentation (and my time interacting with students and faculty) at Denison University was about.  It was a blast and most exciting talk I have every given (outside of my dissertation defense).  Hip Hop and Science is a hobby of mine. I think students were surprised to discover that I’m a ‘traditional’ biologist; but it was fun talking science and culture with them.  I never realized how much we really do miss the forests for the trees in basic science disciplines. It really puts things in perspective to interact with people who see the world through different lenses – the humanities and social sciences.

I know whom I owe thanks for my invitation to speak at the Dr. Laura C. Harris Symposium at Denison University 2012-2013 series on “Sex, Science and Society”: Ms M. Feldner, the administrative assistant of the Women’s Studies Department.  She reads the blog and submitted my name to the committee as a potential invitee. Wow and wow! And I humbled and honored. I sometimes assume the only people who read this blog are folks that I know within 2 or 3 degrees of freedom. (And this should also serve as a testimony to scholars that social media presence can have a positive impact on your professional activities.)

The entire department was so amazing.  Women’s Studies is an interdisciplinary department with professors holding dual positions in other departments such as History, Black Studies, and Biology.  As they escorted me from meal to class to meeting, I found the intersectional dialogue refreshing and so enlightening.  These undergraduates are remarkable, and it isn’t hard to see why: they have a host of dedicated professors who challenge and engage them to think both inside-of and outside-of the proverbial box.  And it seems my talk about the intersection of hip hop and feminism was timely. Several students shared with me that they were taking courses or writing papers about this very topic.

I am told I received a pretty good turn out for the near-end of term. I focused on introducing a few key terms relevant to Sexual Selection. Song lyrics and video content were then used to point out demonstrations of human behavior as exemplars of the key terms. Below is an abridged version of the presentation I gave at the Symposium. (See also my post on November 27, 2012, that provides a summary of the presentation and video/song playlist.)

At the end of the discussion, students and faculty asked very insightful questions about sexual lyrical content then and now, how do I apply feminist critiques to my own discipline – science, and of course the discussion was about Hip Hop Music and the Music Industry. They were an awesome bunch. Liberal arts education rocks!  The University recorded the presentation, but they keep the video in the library archive.

And they honored me with a really great thank you set.

coffee mugs, note pad, mints, and post-its: You know I love that!

I am super grateful. This invitation and the interactions with the students and faculty were very eye-opening for me. It was a professional development opportunity that I didn’t know I would have or need.
Asante sana!
DNLee

DNLee About the Author: DNLee is a biologist and she studies animal behavior, mammalogy, and ecology . She uses social media, informal experiential science experiences, and draws from hip hop culture to share science with general audiences, particularly under-served groups. Follow on Twitter @DNLee5.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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