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Sound, in Western thinking, has always been somewhat of an irritant. Ubiquitous and yet evanescent, sound does not easily yield to a thinking accustomed to things, locations, and stable configurations. Likewise, hearing for centuries has been dominated by the other senses: olfactory, haptic and most prominently in modern times, visual perception. Even though recent scholarship has slowly begun to recuperate the senses from longstanding neglect, and despite the upsurge of critical discourses centered on the body, still few are those scholars who challenge the prevailing emphasis in the social sciences and humanities on representational practices associated with the visual. Even fewer are those who turn their attention to hearing. The course will explore a range of discourses and practices pertaining to sound as culture. Many of the readings will be about various aspects of sound (and occasionally, music) in Europe, but by examining sound from a cross-cultural perspective the course will also attempt to open up a dialogue with alternative sonic practices and thus ultimately challenge many taken-for-granted notions underlying contemporary theories of culture.



Introduction: Sensescapes

David Howes: Introduction: Empires of the Senses, David Howes, ed., Empire of the Senses. The Sensual Culture Reader. New York: Berg, 2005: 1-20

“Intrinsically Ambiguous:" The Ear in the Western Philosophical Tradition

Aristotle: De anima, II/ VII-VIII.

Anthony Synnott: Puzzling over the Senses: From Plato to Marx, David Howes, ed., The Varieties of Sensory Experience. Toronto: University of Toronto Press: 61-76

Sound Cross-Culturally: Hearing and the Anthropology of the Senses

Constance Classen: Creation by Sound/Creation by Light: A Sensory Analysis of Two South American Cosmologies, David Howes, ed., The Varieties of Sensory Experience. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1991: 239-56

Ian Ritchie: Fusion of the Faculties: A Study of the Language of the Senses in Hausaland, David Howes, ed., The Varieties of Sensory Experience. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1991: 192-202

Henry Stobart: Bodies of sound and lanscapes of music: a view from the Bolivian Andes, Penelope Gouk, ed., Musical Healing in Cultural Contexts. Brookfield, Vt.: Ashgate: 26-45

Paul Stoller: Sound in Songhay Cultural Experience, American Ethnologist 11/3, 1984:559-70

Within Earshot: Rainforest Acoustemology

Steven Feld: ‘Waterfalls of Songs: An Acoustemology of Place Resounding in Bosavi, Papua New Guinea,’ in Feld, Steven and Keith H.Basso, eds.: Senses of Place. Santa Fe: School of American Research Press: 91-136

Anthony Seeger: Why Suya Sing. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987

Gutenberg and a New Episteme?

Marshall McLuhan: The Gutenberg Galaxy. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1990 [1962]

Walter Ong: Orality and Literacy. The Technologizing of the Word. New York: Routledge, 1982

Bruce Smith: The Acoustic World of Early Modern England. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999, ch.4

The Politics of Sound in Early Modern Europe

Richard Leppert: ‘Desire, Power, and the Sonoric Landscape (Early Modernism and the Politics of Musical Privacy), in The Sight of Sound. Music, Representation, and the History of the Body. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995, 15-42

Bruce Smith: The Acoustic World of Early Modern England. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999, ch.3

Modernity - A Visual Age?

Penelope Gouk: Music, Science and Natural Magic in Seventeenth-Century England. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999

Martin Jay, Downcast eyes : the denigration of vision in twentieth-century French thought. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993: 21-113

Urban and Rural Soundscapes in 19th century France

James Johnson: Listening in Paris: A Cultural History. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995

Alain Corbin: Village Bells. New York: Columbia University Press, 1998

Postmodernism and the (An)Aesthetics of Sound

Douglas Kahn: Noise, Water, Meat. A History of Sound in the Arts. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1999

Schizophonia and Sound Technologies

Friedrich Kittler: Gramophone, Film, Typewriter. Stanford: Stanford University Press, ch.2 ‘Gramophone’

Tom Porcello: "Tails Out": Social Phenomenology and the Ethnographic Representation
of Technology in Music-Making. Ethnomusicology 42(3), 1991:485-510

Michael Taussig: The Talking Machine; His Masters Voice, in Mimesis and Alterity: A Particular History of the Senses. New York: Routledge, 1993: 193-235.

Paul Theberge: Any Sound You Can Imagine. Making Music/Consuming Technology.
Wesleyan University Press, 1997

Sounding out the New: Acoustic Ecology

Steven Connor: Feel the Noise: Excess, Affect and the Acoustic, Gerhard Hoffmann and Alfred Hornung, eds., Emotion in Postmodernism. Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag Carl Winter, 1997: 147-62

Murray Schafer: The Soundscape: Our Sonic Environment and the Tuning of the World. Destiny Books, 1993

Jacques Attali: Noise. The Political Economy of Music. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1992

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