cover of book

Parodies of Ownership: Hip-Hop Aesthetics and Intellectual Property Law
by Richard L. Schur
University of Michigan Press, 2009
Cloth: 978-0-472-07060-2 | eISBN: 978-0-472-02449-0 | Paper: 978-0-472-05060-4
Library of Congress Classification KF4757.S38 2009
Dewey Decimal Classification 346.730482


"Richard Schur offers a provocative view of contemporary African American cultural politics and the relationship between African American cultural production and intellectual property law."
---Mark Anthony Neal, Duke University

"Whites used to own blacks. Now, they accomplish much the same thing by insisting that they 'own' ownership. Blacks shouldn't let them. A culture that makes all artists play by its rules will end up controlling new ideas and stifling change. Richard Schur's fine book explains why."
---Richard Delgado, Seattle University

What is the relationship between hip-hop and African American culture in the post--Civil Rights era? Does hip-hop share a criticism of American culture or stand as an isolated and unique phenomenon? How have African American texts responded to the increasing role intellectual property law plays in regulating images, sounds, words, and logos? Parodies of Ownership examines how contemporary African American writers, artists, and musicians have developed an artistic form that Schur terms "hip-hop aesthetics." This book offers an in-depth examination of a wide range of contemporary African American painters and writers, including Anna Deavere Smith, Toni Morrison, Adrian Piper, Colson Whitehead, Michael Ray Charles, Alice Randall, and Fred Wilson. Their absence from conversations about African American culture has caused a misunderstanding about the nature of contemporary cultural issues and resulted in neglect of their innovative responses to the post--Civil Rights era. By considering their work as a cross-disciplinary and specifically African American cultural movement, Schur shows how a new paradigm for artistic creation has developed.

Parodies of Ownership offers a broad analysis of post--Civil Rights era culture and provides the necessary context for understanding contemporary debates within American studies, African American studies, intellectual property law, African American literature, art history, and hip-hop studies. Weaving together law, literature, art, and music, Schur deftly clarifies the conceptual issues that unify contemporary African American culture, empowering this generation of artists, writers, and musicians to criticize how racism continues to affect our country.

Richard L. Schur is Director, Interdisciplinary Studies Center, and Associate Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at Drury University. Visit the author's website:

Cover illustration: Atlas, by Fred Wilson. © Fred Wilson, courtesy Pace Wildenstein, New York.
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