On April 4th, Clarion University professor Vanessa J. Morris presented two sessions discussing Street Literature. As a former librarian for the Free Library of Philadelphia, Professor Morris’ professional interests include young adult services, rural libraries, and urban branch libraries.
Professor Morris began by describing Hip Hop culture. She noted that elements of the culture are present everywhere, from the kind of music that people listen to, to the clothing brands that they wear. She also stated that “Rap is something you do. Hip hop is something you live.”
Street Literature describes the daily lives of people (most generally African-Americans, but aspects of Latino culture are also present) living in the inner city. Common themes include young women coming of age, young men at turning points, sexuality, drama, drug addiction and drug trafficking.
Professor Morris made sure to include the names of authors who have made Street Literature popular, specifically Zane, the “Queen of Street Lit.” Since the release of three self-published books in 2000, Zane signed a contract with Simon and Schuster in June 2001, and has written over a dozen books. Recently, Zane held seven of the top fifteen African American fiction titles at Waldenbooks Nationwide including the first, second and third positions.
Street Lit remains controversial, and it has been banned from some public and school libraries. Despite this, the genre continues to grow in popularity and the Street Lit audience as a whole continues to grow.
For more info on Professor Morris, check out her blog!