Roy Christopher: Reading Creatively
“We don’t need to just make room, we need to change the defaults,” writes Dr. Roy Christopher in his book Dead Precedents: How Hip-Hop Defines the Future (Repeater Books, 2019). As a scholar and theorist, Christopher engages critical thinking with pop culture to show that innovation is a key to liberation. As a SCAD communications professor, he is beloved for his kinetic lectures and candor. Catch Roy cruising around Savannah on his bike, and he’s happy to stop and talk about his favorite new records and the power of the written word. Here are a few books the avowed bibliophile deems crucial to his development as a writer and educator.
Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (Houghton-Mifflin, 1964): “There’s no way around the importance of Marshall McLuhan and this book to my research interests and my ideas about teaching. Originally conceived as a media-literacy primer for high-school students, this book was reconfigured and became the bible of media theory.”
Hakim Bey, T.A.Z.: The Temporary Autonomous Zone (Autonomedia, 1985): “This book (the full title is T.A.Z: The Temporary Autonomous Zone, Ontological Anarchy, Poetic Terrorism) is ultimately what I strive to create in a classroom, especially one teaching communication: a space where the rules are determined by the discourse of those present, improvisational structuration applied to pedagogy.”
Tricia Rose, Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America (Wesleyan University Press, 1994): “The first full-on academic exploration of hip-hop culture, Dr. Rose’s Black Noise showed that anything that compels learning is fresh fodder for teaching. I go back to this one often.”
Tina Fey, Bossypants (Little, Brown, 2011) and David Lee Roth, Crazy from the Heat (Hyperion, 1997): “These two books, ostensibly autobiographies, are actually handbooks for managing people and projects, two of the main skills needed for running a class and a classroom. I use anecdotes from both of these books in lectures and when constructing syllabi.”
James Gleick, Chaos: Making a New Science (Scribner, 1987): “If not for this book, I wouldn’t have become a reader instead of a viewer, a scholar instead of a spectator, a teacher instead of a journalist. I reread it regularly. The effect this book had on me is well-documented in this interview from 2015.”
Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner, Teaching as a Subversive Activity (Delacorte Press, 1969): “Teaching might not seem like the coolest thing to some people, but if everyone read this book, we’d be considered rock stars. Postman and Weingartner make teaching sound downright dangerous. And it is, you know.”
Read Roy’s interview with Tricia Rose in the forthcoming Follow for Now, Vol. 2 (Punctum Books).