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Michael Stoff, Director 305 East 23rd St, CLA 2.102, (G3600) Austin, TX 78712-1250 • 512-471-1442

Fall 2007

T C 301 • Listening and Not Listening

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
44630 TTh
11:00 AM-12:30 PM
MRH 3.134
Dell' Antonio

Course Description

This seminar will examine how the notion of listening to music has developed as a cultural construct in the Euro-American tradition. We will examine the various shifts in descriptions and idealizations of attentive listening from the seventeenth century to the present, and trace how the concept has been used as a marker of identity, class, and taste.

Some of our questions: at what point do musical works become isolated from broader social events? What does it mean to pay attention to music in different contexts and genres? How does the notion of inattentive listening or background music become separated out from attentive listening, and what kinds of music (or individual) are associated with each? How do these categories of foreground and background become wrapped up with notions of art and entertainment, high and low culture, and other key distinctions that shape the development of nineteenth-, twentieth-, and twenty-first-century social roles? How have various aspects of technology framed and complicated the discussion, especially since the advent of recorded sound, and even more since the increasing saturation of sound media in the last quarter century?

About the Professor
Andrew Dell'Antonio, associate professor of musicology, teaches a wide variety of courses for non-majors, music majors, and graduate students; his work has focused on early modern Europe and contemporary musical multimedia, and he has published essays on seventeenth-century Italy, music and politics, and MTV (with a focus on Beavis and Butt-head). Born in Italy, he is also inordinately proud of his cooking skills, egged on in that pursuit by his wife and his autistic, adopted six-year-old daughter.

Grading Policy

3 Short reading-response essays (2-3 pages each): 15% (5% each)
Research Paper (4-6 pages): 20%
Interview Paper (6-8 pages): 25%
Attendance and participation: 40%


Readings will include portions of James Johnson's Listening in Paris : a Cultural History, a number of essays on the role of music reception in nineteenth- and twentieth-century culture, excerpts from contemporary textbooks that address "attentive listening", and selected essays from a collection recently edited by the instructor (University of California Press, 2004) entitled Beyond Structural Listening? Postmodern Modes of Hearing.


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