This semester students who currently attend Washington University in St. Louis, MO. had the opportunity to take a class called “Politics of Kanye West: Black Genius and Sonic Aesthetics.” Professor Dr. Jeffrey McCune — who is also writing a book on West, described the course to the St. Louis Dispatch, described it as a “good way to get students to connect issues of politics, race, gender, sexuality and culture.”
Throughout the class, topics have focused on some of West’s 2016 exploits, including his album The Life of Pablo and public breakdown (followed by a stint in rehab). McCune’s second lecture of the course was “Mumbo Jumbo: The (in)Audibility of Kanye West.”
“The question isn’t, ‘Why teach Kanye West? The question is, ‘What does Kanye teach us?’” McCune said on the lecture.
McCune’s third and final lecture for the semester is called “Name One Genius That Ain’t Crazy: Kanye West and the Politics of Self-Diagnosis,” which focuses on mental health.
The lecture hopes to detail the dichotomy of the term/label “crazy” — as a disability and mental illness, and a type of genius and innovation — and how race plays into both.
“I want to give people permission to be enraged. Give people permission to be upset, to be angry, to be frustrated. Give people permission to have moments where they break. Give people permission to have moments where they experience depression,” McCune said. “I want to give them permission to have those moments without being characterized as being some type of deviant figure in the community. I don’t want to take away that experience and call it crazy. It’s reasonable. And it must be addressed with love, compassion, care, generosity.”
Professor McCune’s final lecture happens April 12th in the Emerson Auditorium at Washington University in St. Louis, and will be free and open to the public.