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FALL 2011 COURSE OFFERINGS

The Society annually awards fellowships for research in the humanities. The fellows offer, in line with their research, informal seminars intended to be exploratory or interdisciplinary. These seminars are open to graduate students, suitably qualified undergraduates, and interested auditors. Students who want credit for a seminar should formally register in their own college. Persons other than those officially enrolled may attend as visitors with permission of the fellow.

Download a .pdf of the full 2011-2012 course catalog.

COURSE LIST QUICK JUMP
(or you can scroll down the page):
SHUM 4851 Listening to Race in US Culture
(also AMST 4751, ASRC 4851, ENGL 4078, GOVT 4553)
SHUM 4852 Afrofuturisms and Global Sonic Diasporas
(also ASRC 4852, COML 4116, MUS 4352, VISST 4852)
SHUM 4854 Urban Soundscapes of the Middle East
(also HIST 4854, NES 4954)
SHUM 4855 The Acoustical Landscape
(also DANCE 4855, FILM 4855, THETR 4855)
SHUM 4856 Video Games and Sonic Recreation
(also MUS 4456, STS 4856, VISST 4856)
SHUM 4857 Dictation, Disenchantment, and Irish Modernism
(also ENGL 4070)
SHUM 4858 The Transnational Hookup: Radio and Literature in the Americas
(also COML 4901)
SHUM 4307 Visualizing Sound
(also MUS 4307/7307)

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SHUM 4851 Listening to Race in US Culture
(also AMST 4751, ASRC 4851, ENGL 4078, GOVT 4553)

Fall.  4 credits. 
Limited to 15 students. 
J. Stoever-Ackerman
T 12:20 - 2:15

Conventional wisdom and previous scholarship have led us to believe that race is a visual phenomenon. This seminar unsettles the longstanding relationship between race and looking by exploring the often-undetected ways in which sound and listening have also functioned to produce race in the United States. Just as W.E.B. Du Bois delineated the dangers of the visual color-line, our mutual critical labors will reveal race’s audible contour, the sonic color-line, and examine how race can be heard as well as seen. The seminar is both an investigation of the role of sound in the historical production of race as well as an interdisciplinary introduction designed to open our ears to the field of sound studies from multiple vantage points: historical, textual, technological, and material. Over the course of the semester, we will discuss critical questions like: What is the relationship between listening and looking? How is listening historically and culturally conditioned? What does it mean to listen to race? What do “blackness” and “whiteness” sound like? To whom? How have aural idioms of race shaped American cultural history and thought?

We begin with an introductory unit (weeks 1-3) that focuses on three “keywords” that are essential for interrogating the history of sound and listening: “listening,” “race,” and “noise.” In the vein of Raymond Williams, we will explore these terms as contested lightning rods for our assumptions and beliefs about culture, society, and the field of sound studies. After critically examining these keywords, we will proceed historically, tracing the following themes as they shift from antebellum slavery to the post-World War II era: the development of racialized listening practices, the power dynamics and ethics of listening, the construction of “black” and “white” voices and musics, and the role of “noise” in the production of racially segregated space. To do so, we will interweave archival case studies with literary and cultural analysis that concentrates on four historical moments in the history of race before the Civil Rights Movement: late antebellum slavery, Reconstruction, the interwar Great Migration, and World War II. We will rethink each of these eras through the ear, beginning with an examination of the archival press reception of an iconic African American musical performer whose career is particularly bound up with racial controversy. Ranging from the inaugural performance of “The Black Swan” in New York City in 1851 to Lena Horne’s World War II-era radio appearances, our exploration of original press materials will enable us to reconstruct and challenge how mainstream media outlets represented various historical iterations of “the black voice,” a sound freighted with a complex blend of fear and fascination. For each case study, we will discuss how critics used music writing to record and discipline a “listening ear” attuned to national and racial ideologies, revealing the presence of deeply held cultural values surrounding listening, sound, and race. We will then use the work of African American writers and thinkers contemporary to the musical case studies to contextualize the racialized listening practices of each era, discussing how Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs, Charles Chesnutt, W.E.B Du Bois, Richard Wright, and Ann Petry used sonic imagery of their own to expose, resist, and re-plot America’s sonic color-line in their respective historical moments.

Jennifer Stoever-Ackerman received her PhD in American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California. Her dissertation, “The Contours of the Sonic Color-Line: Slavery, Segregation, and the Cultural Politics of Listening” was a 2007 finalist for the American Studies Association Dissertation Prize. Currently Assistant Professor at SUNY Binghamton, she teaches courses on African American literature and race and gender representation in popular music and is the director of the Binghamton University Sound Studies Collective. She has published in The Iowa Journal of Cultural Studies, Social Identities and Social Text; her essay on Blackboard Jungle, the cold war, and the cultural history of the tape recorder is forthcoming in American Quarterly. Jennifer is on the editorial board of the Journal of Popular Music Studies and is co-editing an anthology on the politics of recorded sound with Gustavus Stadler. She is also Editor in Chief, Guest Posts Editor, and a regular contributor for an academic sound studies blog called Sounding Out! at www.soundstudiesblog.com

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SHUM 4852 Afrofuturisms and Global Sonic Diasporas
(also ASRC 4852, COML 4116, MUS 4352, VISST 4852)
Fall.  4 credits. 
Limited to 15 students. 
M. Boon
T 10:10 - 12:05

This course explores contemporary Afrodiasporic sound cultures as they relate to issues of politics and aesthetics, community and praxis in the age of globalization, the Internet and the commodification of “lifestyle”. Discussions of contemporary music cultures tend to be framed even today in terms of subculture and mass or popular culture – words that are accurate in marking the way that most musical practice is framed by and organized within the logic of global capitalism, but which at the same time foreclose attempts to recognize practices that operate counter to that logic. Alain Badiou recently wrote of the need for a “new popular discipline” yet as with similar calls in the work of Hardt and Negri, Rancière and Laclau, there is a striking lack of examples of where one might find such a popular discipline today. Steve Goodman’s recent book Sonic Warfare allows us to rethink Afrodiasporic subcultures as forms of collective sonic experimentation and expression, and reveals a surprising but persuasive politics in soundsystem cultures such as hiphop, dancehall, house and their various global mutations. We will use the trope of “Afrofuturism” as a way of locating a variety of recent sonic and theoretical attempts at producing new forms of “popular discipline” beyond “subculture” (examples to include Fela Kuti, free jazz, as well more obviously technological forms), and as a key element in a broader analysis of the relationship between literature and alternatives to hegemonic global capitalism today.

Topics to be addressed include: the meaning of “futurism” in Afrofuturism(s); music, sound and noise as universals; global, local and nomadic sound cultures; “folk”, populism and popular discipline; subculture, mass culture and counterculture in the digital era. We will read theoretical works by Alain Badiou, Kodwo Eshun, Paul Gilroy, Steve Goodman and George Lewis alongside literary texts by Chris Abani, Amos Tutuola and Gautam Malkani and musicological writings by Amiri Baraka, DJ/Rupture, Rammellzee, Graham St. John and Sun Ra.

Marcus Boon is associate professor of English at York University in Toronto, where he teaches contemporary literature and cultural theory. He is the author of The Road of Excess: A History of Writers on Drugs (Harvard UP, 2002) and In Praise of Copying (Harvard UP, 2010), and the editor of America: A Prophecy! The Sparrow Reader (Soft Skull, 2006) and Subduing Demons in America: Selected Poems of John Giorno 1962-2007 (Soft Skull, 2008). He writes about contemporary music for The Wire and Signal to Noise. He is currently co-editing a book on Buddhism and critical theory, and a new edition of William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin’s The Third Mind. His current work concerns a crisis in the concept of practice in contemporary life, and various possible remedies. His project for the Society for the Humanities, “Sound and Popular Discipline, 1950-present”, attempts to think through music and sound making in Afrodiasporic dancehall scenes and avant gardes as a set of models for the radicalization of practice.

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SHUM 4854 Urban Soundscapes of the Middle East
(also HIST 4854, NES 4954)

Fall.  4 credits. 
Limited to 15 students. 
Z. Fahmy
R 12:20 - 2:15

This reading seminar examines the urban soundscape of the modern Middle East. We will explore the expansion and cultural influence of Middle Eastern sound and audiovisual media from the late nineteenth to the late twentieth century. Through our weekly readings and discussions, we will interrogate how the intersection of popular music, theater, poetry, film, and later on satellite television and music videos shaped culture, ideology, and identities in the modern Middle East. Topics we will consider include contested media representations of religiosity, “modernity,” gender and sexuality. We will also pay close attention to evolving interpretations of cultural, religious, national, and transnational identities. All the while, we will examine some of the latest theories and works analyzing the importance of aurality/orality and hearing in analyzing culture and society.

Ziad Fahmy (Ph.D., History, University of Arizona, 2007) is an Assistant Professor of Modern Middle East History. His interests include nationalism in the modern Middle East, colloquial Arabic mass-culture, and media and identity in Egypt and the Arab World. His dissertation “Popularizing Egyptian Nationalism” was awarded the Malcolm H. Kerr Dissertation Award (2008). His book, titled: Ordinary Egyptians: Creating the Modern Nation through Popular Culture, is forthcoming at Stanford University Press (June 2011). He is currently working on another book project tentatively titled: Listening to the Nation: Mass Culture and Identities in Interwar Egypt.

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SHUM 4856 Video Games and Sonic Recreation
(also MUS 4456, STS 4856, VISST 4856)

Fall.  4 credits. 
Limited to 15 students.  
R. Moseley
R 12:20 - 2:15

Within and across historico-cultural milieux, technological developments tend to estrange sound from source. As Max Weber pointed out in The Rational and Social Foundations of Music, the onus of (re)production is typically divested from individual agents to increasingly intricate instruments and other acoustic devices, giving rise to complex acousmatic relationships between performative acts and sonic outcomes. For Weber, these processes were bound up with industrial disenchantment, and theorists of sound from Adorno to Attali have followed him in conceiving of its production and dissemination according to economic criteria: whether as medium or commodity, sound conveys and connotes capital. From the aulos to the MIDI keyboard, technological advancements have transformed and problematized the relationship between means of sonic production on the one hand and patterns of perception and consumption on the other.

Supplementing these insights, this seminar will explore the idea that disjunctions between “literate” texts that encipher reproductive rules or instructions, whether they be quarter notes, digital audio bitstreams, or computer code, and “oral” acts of performance, from operatic singing to the wielding of plastic pseudo-guitars, can open up sound worlds of musical play as well as sites of labor and exchange. Play takes place in the spaces that open up between sign and sound, instruction and execution, the permissible and the imaginable. Play is performative and sometimes transgressive: players operate both within and against the technological and ideological constraints that define the rules of sonic engagement.

It is with this in mind that we will approach the music-themed video game as both case study and lens through which to perceive how sonic elements can rub up against the visual and the tactile. As sites of cultural contestation and mediation that problematize distinctions between consumption and production, performance and reception, music and noise, action and reaction, and empowerment and enslavement, video games such as Guitar Hero and Rock Band constitute the most explicit evidence of the collision of the sonic, the playful, and the technological in the early twenty-first century.

As a scholar, teacher, and pianist, Roger Moseley focuses on intersections between the musical disciplines of history, theory, and performance. His interests range from the music of Brahms, on which he wrote his PhD dissertation at the University of California, Berkeley, to music-based video games such as Guitar Hero and Rock Band, and from eighteenth-century keyboard improvisation to technologies of musical (re)production.

Prior to his appointment as assistant professor of music at Cornell University in 2010, Moseley lectured in music history and theory at the University of Chicago. From 2004-2007 he was a junior research fellow at University College, Oxford, and in 2007 he was awarded an MMus with distinction in collaborative piano from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. More information on Moseley’s activities and recordings of his performances and improvisations are available at www.rogermoseley.com.

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SHUM 4857 Dictation, Disenchantment, and Irish Modernism
(also ENGL 4070)

Fall.  4 credits. 
Limited to 15 students. 
D. Keane
W 2:30 - 4:25

From its symbolically formative moment after the failure of Parnellite agitation in 1890, modern Irish writing has been structured by debates and controversies over literary autonomy and political engagement, over the ideal virtues of art and the practical effects of propaganda, within the project of forging and consolidating a national community. Because literary expression was held to evince a singular Irish identity that had both aesthetic value and political utility, it was repeatedly mobilized in fields of institutional contest governed by very different, if oftentimes complicit, protocols of production, classification, and reception. This seminar will consider how the three primary meanings of “dictation”—the exercise of political dictatorship; the act of dictating (for transcription); a dictated utterance—provide a reflexive entry point into the field of Irish modernism. Course readings will examine the logic of rationalization and mimesis that underpins this nexus of dictation, especially as it was materialized in political and institutional contexts marked by uncertainty over the mechanisms of democratic polity and the rise and success of dictatorial forms of authority. By following the evolution of the practical interactions of dictation machines, radio broadcasting, and print media in the period, we will trace a course from anti-colonial agitation against imperial coercion through the rise of fascism to the immediate aftermath of the Second World War, when the dynamic features of a new media environment could not entirely dispel the central concerns of the preceding decades.

Over the course of the semester, we will approach Irish writing roughly from Bram Stoker to Samuel Beckett, with a syllabus arranged chronologically and incorporating non-Irish works when appropriate. The first section of the course will attend to the deployment of the voice at the politicized intersections of early sound recording technology with textual production and circulation. In the second section, we will track how these interactions respond to changing institutional configurations, from the professionalization of folklore collecting to self-determined statecraft and international diplomacy to literary networks and negotiations. The third section of the course will be devoted to the dominance of radio.

Damien Keane received his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania and is currently an assistant professor in the English department at the State University of New York at Buffalo. He teaches courses on Irish writing and modernism, and his research interests broadly revolve around the sociological relations of technologies of sound reproduction and transmission, printed matter, and institutional formations. He is nearing the completion of a manuscript entitled Ireland and the Problem of Information.

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SHUM 4858 The Transnational Hookup: Radio and Literature in the Americas
(also COML 4901)

Fall.  4 credits. 
Limited to 15 students. 
T. McEnaney
M 2:30 - 4:25

In this course we will consider how broadcast engineering channeled sound’s notorious immateriality through a medium, radio, both praised and decried for its border-crossing ability. We will explore written and sonic works from Argentina (Piglia, Puig, Borges), Cuba (Guevara, Sarduy, Cabrera Infante), Mexico (Maples-Arce, Quintanilla), Puerto Rico (Rafael Sánchez), and the United States (McCullers, Alarcón, Chandler, Hagedorn) in order to ask how writing and reading with an ear for radio renews debates about public and private space, copyright law, and national territory, as well as notions of post-colonial, transnational, and world literature. In our attempt to tune in to writers’ experiments with sound, we will also try out a variety of reading practices drawn from anthropology (Hirschkind), socio-linguistics (Agha, Silverstein), new media (Sterne), psychoanalysis (Dolar, Silverman), and musicology (Bergeron, Kun) to think through what might be particular about the way literature mediates sound.

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SHUM 4307 Visualizing Sound
(also MUS 4307/7307)

Fall.  4 credits. 
Limited to 15 students. 
E. Bates
M 1:25 - 4:25

A 21st century transcription/analysis class, designed to provide useful analytic methods to ethnomusicologists, musicologists, and composers. We will explore myriad notational systems, from chant and tablature to ethnomusicological analytical transcriptions to experimental music scores, and a variety of computer analysis and transcription tools for visualizing musical and nonmusical sound.


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SPRING 2012 COURSE OFFERINGS

The Society annually awards fellowships for research in the humanities. The fellows offer, in line with their research, informal seminars intended to be exploratory or interdisciplinary. These seminars are open to graduate students, suitably qualified undergraduates, and interested auditors. Students who want credit for a seminar should formally register in their own college. Persons other than those officially enrolled may attend as visitors with permission of the fellow.

Download a .pdf of the full 2011-2012 course catalog.

COURSE LIST QUICK JUMP
(or you can scroll down the page):
SHUM 4961 Musicology in the Flesh: Sound and Senses
(also MUS 4161, DANCE 4961, THETR 4961)
SHUM 4962 Islamic Aural Cultures
(also GOVT 4565, NES 4962)
SHUM 4963 Sounding the Animal
(also COML 4117, ENGL 4963, VISST 4963)
SHUM 4964 Signal to Noise: The Politics of Sound
(also AMST 4963, GOVT 4252)
SHUM 4965 The History of Pre-Industrial Noise in Europe, 1400-1800
(also HIST 4965)
SHUM 4966 Science, Technology and Medicine: The Sonic Dimension
(also MUS 4466, SOC 4970, STS 4966, BSOC 4966)

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SHUM 4961 Musicology in the Flesh: Sound and Senses
(also MUS 4161, DANCE 4961, THETR 4961)

Spring.  4 credits. 
Limited to 15 students. 
N. Eidsheim
T 12:20 - 2:15

Although music consists of sound waves and appeals primarily to hearing, our full range of senses interacts and converges in intricate ways. When one sense is called upon, secondary senses are also activated, and each contributes to our compound experience of music.

How do senses other than hearing act on our perceptions of the sonic components of music? How have the senses been prioritized differently at different historical moments, and how have those prioritizations affected notions of value in musical culture? How may the changing values that we assign to each of our senses shape our perceptions of music and the ways in which we are affected by it? How have questions about human sensory capacity been posed, as both enabling and limiting conditions, in relation to knowledge? What kinds of relative virtues have been ascribed to different senses with regard to various types of knowledge and experience? Do currently available analytical methods and theoretical frameworks adequately facilitate such inquiry? What may constitute a musicology in the flesh?

Nina Sun Eidsheim is Assistant Professor of Musicology at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her teaching and research interests include avant-garde and popular vocal practices from the 1950s to the present, focusing on issues of vocal timbre, the relationship between the body and the voice, and sound in its material manifestations. She is currently producing both a monograph and a collaborative installation piece on the multi-sensorial experience of music. And as scholar and musician Eidsheim explores various music technologies.

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SHUM 4962 Islamic Aural Cultures
(also GOVT 4565, NES 4962)
Spring.  4 credits. 
Limited to 15 students. 
J. Jouili
M 10:10 - 12:05

The Islamic tradition, having placed from its inception heavy emphasis on the word and on listening to the word, is distinguished by a rich and ambiguous relation to aurality. The course will take an interdisciplinary approach to the study of this tradition that builds upon a strong theoretical framework. In the early weeks of the course we will discuss different philosophical approaches to the question of the senses and (recent) Western philosophy’s re-discovery of the auditory sense (Aristotle, David Howes, Veit Erlmann). We will also consider the relation between listening and power (Jean-Luc Nancy; Jacques Attali), especially in regard to modern secular sensibilities (Talal Asad, Eric Leigh Schmidt). The course will then examine the changing conceptions of listening in Islamic contexts from classical times to contemporary settings (Al-Ghazzali; Jean During; Martin Stokes). It will particularly look at how (Islamic) ethics of listening have been reconfigured through the introduction of modern media technologies (Walter Benjamin; Steven Connor; Jonathan Sterne; Charles Hirschkind), as well as through processes of commodification and influences of popular culture. In this context, we will also explore the quick proliferation of modernized popular Islamic music genres throughout Muslim communities worldwide. Finally, we will look at specific case studies from different regional settings that elucidate how Islamic soundscapes and forms of listening have come to be progressively addressed and refashioned by secular liberal governance, a process that has been exacerbated in the political context of the ongoing ‘War on Terror.’ In addition to the wide spectrum of theoretical and anthropological literature, the course will make use of various audio-visual materials.

Jeanette S. Jouili just finished a post-doctoral research position at the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research at Amsterdam University where she did research on the (pious) Islamic cultural and artistic scene in France and the UK.. In 2007, she received her PhD jointly from the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris (France) and the European University Viadrina in Frankfurt/Oder (Germany). Jeanette has published in various journals including Feminist Review, Social Anthropology, and Muslim World. She is also completing a book manuscript based on the material of her PhD dissertation provisionally titled “Pious Practice and Secular Constraints: Women in the Islamic Revival in France and Germany.” Jeanette’s research and teaching interests include Islam in Europe, Islamic revivalism, secularism, pluralism, popular culture, moral and aesthetic practices, and gender.

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SHUM 4963 Sounding the Animal
(also COML 4117, ENGL 4963, VISST 4963)
Spring.  4 credits. 
Limited to 15 students. 
J. Skinner
R 10:10 - 12:05

In an age of mass extinction, the meanings of human being, cultural differences and the uses of technology meet in the question of the animal. How do nonhuman beings, both animal and nonorganic, fashion the human? In response to the disappearance, and the transformation, of nonhuman beings, how do human beings refashion animals? This seminar follows a postmodern current in animal studies, and in thinking about the “posthuman,” that assumes aesthetics offer a privileged realm for such questioning. What is it we value, and how do we listen for it?

We’ll begin with sound itself, reading books written to entrain our hearing: the chapter on Sounds in Walden, with Cavell’s read on Thoreau’s soundings; R. Murray Schafer’s classic study, The Soundscape; David Rothenberg’s history of bird song transcription; Pauline Oliveiros’s Deep Listening exercises; and Steven Feld’s ethnomusicology of “bird sound” culture, amidst the Bosavi Kaluli. We may look at the connection between bird song and lyric, with instances from medieval, modern and contemporary poetry.

Only from this basis of listening, can we open up more general questions about the animal. What are animals doing in our dreams? Can they be spiritual teachers? Is it their “bare life” that challenges our ethics? Must we train (and be trained by) animals, to know what they mean? Does language--which seems prior to our relationship to animals, a confounding afterthought, or both--get in the way, or can it open communication? Do “ambient” arts bode well or ill for our relation to animals? We’ll bring information from the emerging discipline of bioacoustics, and a focus on sound, to each question.

We’ll also consider some theories grouped recently as “posthuman” (Wolfe, What is Posthumanism?): Deleuze and Guattari’s mixology of becoming-animal, in all its problematic loudness, systems theory (Maturana and Varela, Luhmann), and a return to phenomenology, influenced by thinking about the multiple (Lingis). “What Is It Like to Be A Bat?” Thomas Nagel asks. The skeptic wants to know how sound persists, outside the history of human hearing. Is there an affective economy of sound beyond acoustics? What is the hauntology in our hearing of animals? Let’s bring a range of cultural perspectives to the discussion, including the perspectivism of animist ontology, where listening differently orients different humans, as outlined by anthropologist Viveiros de Castro. Throughout the seminar we’ll attend to how we sound the animal, to what Agamben calls “the practical and political mystery of separation,” in the very way we speak and the kinds of language we use.

In addition to work by authors mentioned, we’ll consider writings by Steve Baker, Jacques Derrida, Vicki Hearne, James Hillman, Timothy Morton, and a range of works in sound, visual and language art. (Bill Viola’s videos; Nina Katchadourian’s installations; digital creatures in popular culture; field recordings, acousmatic and soundscape compositions—by David Dunn, Luc Ferrari, Francisco Lopez, Pauline Oliveiros, Douglas Quinn, and Hildegard Westerkamp; a range of transcription practices in contemporary poetry, including “conceptual writing.”) There will be a field component, as we test our ideas in the soundscape, and we’ll take on a different Deep Listening exercise each week.

Jonathan Skinner founded and edits the journal ecopoetics (www.ecopoetics.org), which features creative-critical intersections between writing and ecology. Skinner also writes ecocriticism on contemporary poetry and poetics: he has published essays on the poets Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Ronald Johnson, Bernadette Mayer, Lorine Niedecker, and Charles Olson; on Poetries of the Third Landscape, Documentary Poetics, and Poetry Animals; and an ethnographic study of the Tohono O’odham Mockingbird Speech. Skinner’s poetry collections include Birds of Tifft (BlazeVox, 2011), Warblers (Albion Books, 2010), With Naked Foot (Little Scratch Pad Press, 2009), and Political Cactus Poems (Palm Press, 2005). Skinner’s latest creative project is a book on the urban landscape designs of Frederick Law Olmsted. He teaches Environmental Studies at Bates College.

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SHUM 4964 Signal to Noise: The Politics of Sound
(also AMST 4964, GOVT 4252)

Spring.  4 credits. 
Limited to 15 students.  
E. Lott
T 2:30 - 4:25

Who has the right at any given moment to legislate and regulate sound? How does sound produce space and intervene in the power relations that define it? How does it take up the everyday soundscape of its location—clipped speech, screeching industry, the sound of the street—and give it significant form? This seminar will serve as a sort of adjunct laboratory for my ongoing work on urban soundscapes. It comes in three parts. Part I (perhaps three or four sessions) will survey excerpts from some of the most provocative theoretical work on sound, soundscapes, and music’s relation to space, politics, and the body. Thinkers here include John Cage, Ralph Ellison, Amiri Baraka, Roland Barthes, Jacques Attali, Wayne Koestenbaum, Christopher Small, Suzanne Cusick, Douglas Kahn, and Fred Moten. Theoretical readings will be paired with apposite musical and sonic examples, from John Philip Sousa to punk.

Part II (perhaps three sessions) will delve into certain classics of popular music scholarship, grounding us even more in concrete examples and charting a genealogy of musical study. I have in mind such books as Charles Keil’s Urban Blues (1967), Greil Marcus’s Mystery Train (1975), Albert Murray’s Stomping the Blues (1976), Dick Hebdige’s Subculture (1979), and Tricia Rose’s Black Noise (1994). Listening to the music these writers study, we’ll test their claims, evaluate their methods, voices, and strategies, and think about their legacies and influence.

Part III, the longest section of the seminar, will focus on five cities: New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and New Orleans. (Other cities come immediately to mind as well, among them Detroit, Cleveland, Miami, Memphis, and Austin, but life is short.) Each of these storied places has more than one cultural-historical narrative, to say the least—the whole point indeed being that these often bump up against one another—and for each place we’ll try to examine something of its politically overdetermined, multiply-ramifying cultural and musical history. New York, from 1940s bebop dissent to the “urban-crisis,” post-Robert Moses Bronx origins of rap, with the advent of punk in between; Chicago, urbanizer first of jazz in the 1920s and blues in the 1950s and 60s, then host of house in the 80s, all of it implicating various aspects of the Chicago School of Sociology’s urban visions, from Robert Park to William Julius Wilson; Los Angeles, racially segmented culture-industry capital, scene of Central Avenue sounds in the 1940s, pop manufacture in the 60s, the Laurel Canyon singer-songwriter retreat in the 70s, punk renewal soon after, and a “Tijuana sound” both invented and imported; Atlanta and its environs, from its classic soul infusions to Athens-based indie efflorescence to Dirty-South rap takeover, all of it amounting to some vast allegory of the rise of the Sunbelt; and New Orleans, something of a bedrock, from the rise of jazz and second-line street marching to its post-Katrina status as what Dr. John calls the “lower 9/11.” The point of these inquiries will be to investigate the discontinuous, internally contradictory, oftentimes intra-combative relations of these musics; to learn something of the rich cultural history and social-sonic forces by which place gives rise to musical expression; and to think about mediation—just how it is one gets from spatial-political context to musical form and back again.

Eric Lott teaches American Studies at the University of Virginia. He has written and lectured widely on the politics of U.S. cultural history, and his work has appeared in a range of periodicals including The Village Voice, The Nation, New York Newsday, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Transition, Social Text, African American Review, PMLA, Representations, American Literary History, and American Quarterly. He is the author of the award-winning Love and Theft: Blackface Minstrelsy and the American Working Class (Oxford UP, 1993), from which Bob Dylan took the title for his 2001 album “Love and Theft.” Lott is also the author of The Disappearing Liberal Intellectual (Basic Books, 2006). He is currently finishing a study of race and culture in the twentieth century entitled Tangled Up in Blue: The Cultural Contradictions of American Racism.

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SHUM 4965 The History of Pre-Industrial Noise in Europe, 1400-1800
(also HIST 4965)

Spring.  4 credits. 
Limited to 15 students.  
D. Corpis
T 10:10 - 12:05

This seminar investigates the social and cultural meaning of “noise” early-modern Europe (1400-1800) in order to assess whether noise has a history. How did the meanings, perceptions, and effects of noise change over time, especially in a period that experienced major transformations in religious practices, scientific knowledge, urban life, political state formation, and Europe’s relationship to the rest of the world? Did such immense changes affect how Europeans listened to the world around them, or how and what they heard? How did early modern Europeans use noise as a way of assigning meanings, differences, distinctions, and hierarchies? What moral, aesthetic, and even political values were imposed upon sound and noise in early modernity? We begin with a series of readings that theorize the social, cultural, and political dimensions of sound and noise. Next, we turn to a series of specific case studies that explore how dissonance operated in historically specific cultural and social contexts. For example, in areas of religious pluralism after the Reformation, both Protestants and Catholics often expressed their competitiveness with one another by loudly ringing their church bells, singing their hymns, and publicly performing their own prayers. What one religious denomination heard as pious music, sounds, or speech acts, the rival religious community complained was nothing more than disturbing clamor. When Europeans encountered new peoples during their global projects of exploration and colonization, they frequently commented upon the dissonance they heard in the foreign languages and dialects, the music and feasts, as well as the market places and city streets they came across in their travels. As European cities became bigger and bigger, the racket of everyday life seems to have gotten greater and greater, or else city magistrates were instead becoming more and more sensitive to the commotion and disorder that filled their streets. Can we say whether cities became objectively louder? Or were the complaints of mayors and town councilors about noise more a product of changing political assumptions and principles? Some of the types of books we might read include the following, though this is not a definitive or finalized bibliography: Emily Cockayne, Hubbub: Filth, Noise, and Stench in England, 1600-1770; John M. Picker, Victorian Soundscapes; Mark Smith, Sensing the Past: Seeing, Hearing, Smelling, Tasting and Touching in History; Richard Cullen Rath, How Early American Sounded; Leigh Eric Schmidt’s Hearing Things: Religion, Illusion, and the American Enlightenment; Alain Corbain, Village Bells: Sound and Meaning in the 19th-century Countryside; Brandon LaBelle, Acoustic Territories: Sound Culture and Everyday Life; Veit Erlmann, Hearing Cultures: Essays on Sound, Listening and Modernity; Garret Keizer, The Unwanted Sound of Everything We Want: A Book About Noise; David Howes, Sensual Relations: Engaging the Senses in Culture and Social Theory; Michael Bull, The Auditory Culture Reader; R. Murray Schafer, The Soundscape; Jacques Attali, Noise: The Political Economy of Music; Jean-Luc Nancy, Listening.

Duane Corpis is assistant professor in the Department of History at Cornell University. He received his Ph.D. in Early Modern European History at New York University and is currently completing a book manuscript based on his dissertation titled “The Geographies of Conversion: Crossing the Boundaries of Belief in Southern Germany, 1648-1800.” His primary research interests focus on seventeenth- and eighteenth- century German social, cultural, and religious history. He has published several monographic essays exploring the spatial conflicts between Protestants and Catholics, as they fought over social and political spaces in the early-modern German city. One of Professor Corpis’ related and ongoing research topics includes the ways that early modern Catholics and Protestants used acoustic technologies (e.g., bells, music), non-discursive aural gestures (e.g., laughter, noise), and sonic modes of communication (e.g., sermons, songs) to define and transgress the boundaries of religious difference in their social and theological competition with one another. Upcoming projects will investigate the role of gender and sexuality in Catholic pilgrimages, the globalization of German Protestant charities through missionary networks in the Americas and South Asia, and the treatment of Ottoman prisoners of war held hostage in the Holy Roman Empire. He is also a contributing editor with the journal Radical History Review and has co-edited three thematic issues of RHR that examine the politics of religion, transnational social movements, and new approaches to world history.

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SHUM 4966 Science, Technology and Medicine: The Sonic Dimension
(also MUS 4466, SOC 4970, STS 4966, BSOC 4966)

Spring.  4 credits. 
Limited to 15 students. 
T. Pinch
W 2:30 - 4:30

In this seminar we will discuss the different ways in which sound is embedded in the activities and practices of science, technology and medicine. We will look both contemporaneously and historically. The course will start off with general considerations such as the neglect of sound and the greater priority given to other senses. We will examine different approaches which try to draw attention to sound by historicizing listening practices and key technologies such as the phonograph and stethoscope which have revolutionized technical fields. Students will be expected to read classic pieces on the development of acoustics as a science by Helmholtz, as well as read about modern attempts at sonifcation (the sonic representation of scientific data). We will read a detailed ethnography of scientific lab which has attempted to delineate the role of sound in the everyday practice of science. We will look at how oceanography as a field uses sound and explore some of the gender politics around medical technologies such as ultrasound. We will examine how new media technologies of gaming and animation increasingly offer new sorts of immersive sound experiences. The overall goal of the course is to critically reflect on how sound offers a new way of understanding how humans, culture and society are entwined with and coproduced by science, technology and medicine.

Trevor Pinch is Professor of Science and Technology Studies and Professor of Sociology at Cornell University. He holds degrees in physics and sociology. He has authored and co-authored eighteen books and numerous articles on aspects of the sociology of science, the sociology of technology, the sociology of economics and sound studies. His major studies have included quantum physics, solar neutrinos, parapsychology, health economics, market pitching, the bicycle, the car, the electronic music synthesizer, internet music, product reviews and most lately smart phones. He is a founding editor of the book series “Inside Technology” with MIT Press. His books include How Users Matter (edited with Nelly Oudshoorn, MIT Press, 2003), Analog Days: The Invention and Impact of the Moog Synthesizer (with Frank Trocco, Harvard University Press, 2002), Dr Golem: How To Think About Medicine (with Harry Collins, Chicago University Press, 2005) and Living in a Material World: Economic Sociology Meets Science and Technology Studies (edited with Richard Swedberg, MIT Press, 2008). He is the editor of the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Sound Studies (with Karin Bijsterveld, Oxford university Press, 2011) Analog Days was the winner of the 2003 silver award for popular culture “Book of the Year” of Foreword Magazine. The Golem: What You Should Know About Science (with Harry Collins, Cambridge: Canto 1998 2nd edition) was winner of the Robert Merton prize of the American Sociological Association. Trevor Pinch is also a performing musician and in December 2010 released a CD, “The Electric Golem," on the Ricochet Dream recording label. Trevor Pinch is currently the President Elect of the Society for Social Studies of Science.