Sound Studies: Listening & Creating Between the Material, Medium and Metaphor

Academic Program: 

Instructor: Cameron Ashraf, Ian Cook, Dumitrita Holdis, Jeremy Braverman, Sara Svensson, David Weberman, Judit Emese Konopás, Zoltán Kovács, Lucia Udvardyová

Credits: 2.0

Course description: 

Sound studies describes the various ways in we can know the world through sound, understand sonic phenomena or practices, and explore how sound extends the contours of academic knowledge production. Highly interdisciplinary and often undertaken in cooperation with those outside academia, from musicians to professionals, the field of sound studies is increasingly diverse, daring and exciting.
This co-taught course will explore the cultural, social, philosophical, political and material dimensions of sound and listening. We will explore questions such as: how do race and ethnicity intersect with listening? is our pristine natural sonic environment increasingly ruined by industrialisation and urbanisation? how do states seek to regulate sound and noise? how does podcasting change academic knowledge production? how can we know the world through sound? what's the importance of sound design in documentary film? what does the advancement of literacy do to cultures of orality? how does technology mediate sonic knowledge and musical production? 
Taking sonic mediums seriously, the course also includes practical sessions in which students will learn how to create audio materials relating to the topics and theories explored in class.

Learning outcomes: 

The aim of this course is two-fold: firstly, to interrogate some of the key debates in sound studies, secondly to acquaint students with some of the different skills needed to undertake research through a sonic lens. Touching on some of the most important moments in the development of the field, as well as contemporary debates, 9 of the 12 sessions will be used to help students situate their thinking within a body of scholarship that is seemingly in a constant state of emergence. The remaining 3 sessions will involve practical learning and hands on engagement within and outside the university. It will push students to experiment with different ways of listening and researching.

Students will:

  • develop an understanding of the possibilities sound studies offers for research within and across disciplines
  • become acquainted with some of the key debates in the field
  • learn how to do field recordings
  • learn how to make a podcast
  • learn about transducing images into sounds
  • experiment with applying sound-derived theoretical and analytical insights