Lit-Hop

Adam Mansbach is a novelist and a poet, a scholar and a former DJ, and if his art defies easy categorization, well, that’s just part of being a literary voice influenced by everything and everyone from Public Enemy to Fyodor Dostoyevsky—and beyond.

Mansbach, author of the award-winning novels The End of the Jews and Angry Black White Boy, is the New Voices Visiting Writer at Rutgers–Camden—a program bringing emerging novelists, memoirists, and poets to campus to teach graduate writing workshops, give readings, and participate in the Summer Writers’ Conference.

“[He’s] jazzy, penetrating, provocative,” says professor Lisa Zeidner, director of the MFA program in creative writing at Rutgers–Camden. “He has published not just fiction, but a book of poems and essays, so his presence here really matches our multigenre approach to writing.”

In a course for undergraduates, “Popular Culture: Hip-Hop,” Mansbach is addressing the socioeconomic underpinnings of the genre and how it has influenced other art forms, like literature, theater, and poetry, as well as politics and pedagogy.

“Kids who are 18 have grown up with hip-hop as a given. For a lot of them, there is a disconnect from what hip-hop looks like today from how it originated from social protests,” says Mansbach, who was the founding editor of the pioneering 1990s hip-hop journal Elementary. “It’s important for people to understand its history better and its potential, how it’s been changed with its interface with global capitalism.”

And what is hip-hop? That’s a much-debated question, but Mansbach has noted that it is, among other things, “a culture rooted in poetic, dexterous, inventive, courageous resistance to oppression,” as well as an aesthetic that’s about collage and “a free-ranging, studious, and critical-minded approach to source material and, by extension, life.”

Mansbach says Camden is a city ripe for this kind of discourse. “Camden is in a way an ideal place to talk about it, because all of the socioeconomic factors that led to hip-hop’s creation in the Bronx in the ’80s and ’70s, you see affecting Camden as well.”

Learning about hip-hop will not only raise awareness at Rutgers–Camden of hip-hop’s history, but its philosophy, something Mansbach says has universal appeal. “Hip-hop requires very diligently searching for sounds that fit for you. To an extent, that notion can be applied to life.”

Join Authors for Readings and Q&As

The Visiting Writers Series at Rutgers–Camden brings accomplished writers to campus for readings and workshops. The reading series is open to the public. Readings are free and followed by Q&A sessions and receptions with the authors. Learn more.

A Mansbach Reader

Along with his fiction and poetry, Adam Mansbach has written book reviews, essays, columns, and even a “children’s book for adults.” To learn more about him and read his work, visit his website, which includes a varied selection of his writing.