Watkins, S. Craig
Watkins, S. Craig
(Samuel Craig Watkins)
PERSONAL: Male. Education: University of Michigan, Ph.D., 1994.
ADDRESSES: Home—Austin, TX. Office—University of Texas at Austin, Department of Radio-TV-Film, 1 University Station A0800, Austin, TX 78712-0108.
CAREER: University of Texas, Austin, TX, currently associate professor; Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford, CA, research fellow, 2006–07.
Representing: Hip Hop Culture and the Production of Black Cinema, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1998.
Hip Hop Matters: Politics, Pop Culture, and the Struggle for the Soul of a Movement, Beacon Press (Boston, MA), 2005.
SIDELIGHTS: S. Craig Watkins is a sociologist and university professor whose main research interest is critical and media studies. This involves the modern urban market and how this segment of the population affects the changes in American pop culture, media, product development, and other facets of daily life. Watkins particularly focuses on how entertainment and educational mediums tap into this new market style to communicate with younger members of the population. His study of the modern hip hop culture is a direct offshoot of his research into this phenomenon.
Representing: Hip Hop Culture and the Production of Black Cinema addresses the proliferation of hip hop culture through film, citing in particular the rise of Spike Lee as a director and the popularity of movies about lower-class, ghetto neighborhoods and gang life. Jon Cruz, reviewing the book for the American Journal of Sociology, called it "a compelling assessment of how recent transformations in American culture have altered the mode as well as the manner in which black youth culture has been represented over the last two decades." He concluded by stating that "while many studies have addressed the cultural politics of the last few decades and have examined a wide range of popular culture, Watkins's study is valuable for his deft integration of multiple arenas."
In Hip Hop Matters: Politics, Pop Culture, and the Struggle for the Soul of a Movement Watkins explores the ways in which hip hop affects the evolution of American culture, both socially and on a more fundamental, political level. He explains the origins of hip hop, tracking its history from the more commercial style available from Sugarhill Records in 1979, through the gangsta rap that came into being in the 1990s, and on into the financial success of the records and the offshoot of merchandise, particularly the sale of clothing in styles linked to rap artists. Watkins includes a discussion of the influx of other mediums that have been affected by hip hop culture, including literature and the Internet. Dave Szatmary, in a review for Library Journal, stated that, "offering a fast-moving and well-researched book, Watkins successfully unearths some of the disturbing and encouraging implications of hip-hop culture." A contributor to Publishers Weekly added that "it's clear he believes that the more conscious, political hip-hop … is what has the potential to revolutionize youth, and by extension, America."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Journal of Sociology, November, 1999, Jon Cruz, review of Representing: Hip Hop Culture and the Production of Black Cinema, p. 887.
Black Issues in Higher Education, April 22, 2004, "Reading the Notes for Hip Hop Popular Culture," p. 36.
Journal of American and Comparative Cultures, summer, 2000, Themis Chronopoulos, review of Representing, p. 99.
Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 2005, review of Hip Hop Matters: Politics, Pop Culture, and the Struggle for the Soul of a Movement, p. 582.
Library Journal, July 1, 2005, Dave Szatmary, review of Hip Hop Matters, p. 83.
Publishers Weekly, May 16, 2005, review of Hip Hop Matters, p. 48.
Daily Texan Online, http://www.dailytexanonline.com/ (October 24, 2005), "S. Craig Watkins."
University of Texas Radio and Television Faculty Web site, http://rtf.utexas.edu/ (October 24, 2005), "S. Craig Watkins."
Washington Post Online, http://www.washingtonpost.com/ (October 24, 2005), "S. Craig Watkins."