A Dialectical Approach to Rhetorical Theory: An Analysis of The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill

Mya Aaten-White


Lauryn Hill recorded her debut solo album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, a decade ago. Songs on this collection touch every aspect of Black American culture and internal struggle. Lauryn battles with a range of topics including divinity, personhood, the ghetto, African American Vernacular English (Ebonics), and family. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill remains relevant due to the fact that the issues discussed have not been resolved within the Black American community. The title of her album infers that society failed to give a proper education in the realms of life and life experiences. These lessons were ones that she was able to gain through personal ventures and elderly wisdom; hence, the setting of the classroom which allows students to be active in discussion and conversation with the teacher. Information was gathered from relevant sources that include the lyrics from The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill and artist interviews. Document analysis was also be used in this research. Qualitative research methods were utilized to examine the socio-political atmosphere which produced this set of songs that would illustrate the climate of Black Americanism in the ghetto of New Jersey. Rhetorical Theory refers to the way in which a person intrigues or appeals to an audience using the elements of style, delivery, grammar, memory, and invention. Thus, it is hypothesized in this study that Lauryn Hill’s use of rhetoric is an echo of her predecessors’ verbally inscribed thoughts in such a way that the youth of today can grasp the intellectual genealogy of their ancestors. Elements such as Ebonics, “signifyin,” and storytelling bring alive the struggle for true education for Lauryn as an individual as well as a speaker on behalf of an entire community.


Lauren Hill, Song, Ebonics, Black American Culture

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