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DJ headphones on turntable
Learn why sampling and remixing is today's unique artform—and learn to remix on a turntable.

Remix | Writing and Reading the DJ

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“last night a DJ saved my life”   Indeep (1982 song)

In a moment that has been widely described being defined by “remix culture,” what might we learn from the traditions and practices of the artists who gave us the remix? This course looks at the DJ as an crucial figure, a rhetor even, who influences both US and world culture and examines the DJ’s practices as writing practices. From there we ask how other kinds of writing—public, academic, creative—can be informed by DJs and DJ culture.  We will study specific practices like scratching, remixing, and the mixtape as well as different approaches and spaces in which DJs have shaped culture, from disco to Hip Hop to world music, from radio DJs to party DJs to beat-juggling and turntablism.

In addition to our readings, viewings and work in class, participants in the course will be able to participate in a DJ workshop introducing basic techniques like mixing, and will attend at least 1 live DJ set in San Francisco or Oakland. The course will make turntables and a DJ controller available for students to work on mixes and DJ techniques live, in class.

Meet the Instructor

Adam Banks

Professor of Education

Adam Banks

Committed teacher. Midnight Believer. A Slow Jam in a Hip Hop world. Cerebral and silly, outgoing and a homebody. Vernacular and grounded but academic and idealistic too. Convinced that Donny Hathaway is the most compelling artist of the entire soul and funk era, and that we still don't give Patrice Rushen enough love. I'm a crate digger, and DJ with words and ideas, and I believe that the people, voices and communities we bring with us to Stanford are every bit as important as those with which we engage here at Stanford.

Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, I came to Stanford from the University of Kentucky, where I served on the faculty of the Department of Writing, Rhetoric and Digital Studies and prior to that, from Syracuse University, as a member of the faculty of the Writing Program. In addition to these appointments I served as the Langston Hughes Visiting Professor of English at the University of Kansas and, jointly with Andrea Lunsford, as the Rocky Gooch Visiting Professor for the Bread Loaf School of English.

My scholarship lies at the intersections of writing, rhetoric and technology issues; my specialized interests include African American rhetoric, community literacy, digital rhetorics and digital humanities. My most recent book is titled Digital Griots: African American Rhetoric in a Multimedia Age, and my current digital/book project is titled Technologizing Funk/Funkin Technology: Critical Digital Literacies and the Trope of the Talking Book.