Theses and Dissertations

Testifying through Time: Black Womanhood and Legacies of Testimony in the African American Literary Canon and Hip-Hop Culture

Date of Award


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Committee Chair

Laura Vrana, Ph.D.


In this thesis I argue in favor of a new subgenre of rap music entitled testimonial rap. I reject subgenre categorizations of confessional poetry and conscious rap for the testimonial music of MCs Sa-Roc and Rapsody. This thesis identifies how both MCs inherit and contribute to a literary lineage of testimony among Black women in Hip-Hop and the African American literary canon through deeply vulnerable and intertextual lyrics. I primarily focus on two albums: Sa-Roc’s The Sharecropper’s Daughter (Extended Edition) (2021) and Rapsody’s Eve (2019). This thesis is broken into five parts: an introduction, an interlude, two chapters, and an outro. Each section analyzes music alongside literature to establish connections between seemingly disparate genres of artistic expression to better our understanding of how Black women challenge and redefine literature through testimony.

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