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2022/23 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

ARTF5009M Making Sense of Sound

30 creditsClass Size: 8

Module manager: Prof. John Mowitt

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2022/23

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

By the end of this module students will be able to articulate and complicate, on an advanced level, the 'visual paradigm' that organizes humanistic inquiry. Students will attend to sound through their already developed analytical competencies so as to grasp how sound (noise, music, speech and silence) makes sense. This will enable them to articulate how sound has meaning and how it challenges assumptions about how meaning takes place.


To draw attention to and complicate the 'visual paradigm' that organizes humanistic inquiry. To train students to attend to sound and to develop the analytical competencies for grasping how sound (noise, music, speech and silence) makes sense; how it both has meaning and how it challenges assumptions about how meaning takes place.

Learning outcomes
This is module is conceived as example of learning in the Liberal Arts. This means becoming adept at processing, producing and exchanging communication. In short, thinking and thinking about thinking. Thus, all students are expected to develop their skills as writers, speakers, and thinkers. Doing written work is the proven way to facilitate this development. For postgraduate students, in particular, the presentations will help them prepare for the professional tasks of presenting research in academic settings such as conferences and colloquia. Both the presentations and the papers will instruct them in the work of preparing and elaborating the type of research questions that will focus their doctoral work.


First Week: how sound matters. Reading, J. Cage, 'Water Walk,' and J-L Nancy, 'The Sense of the World.'
Second Week: studying sounds I. Reading, J. Sterne's 'The Sonic Imgination,' and A. Kaganof, 'Night is Coming: Threnody for the Victims of Marikana.'
Third Week: studying sounds II. Reading, M. Schaefer, 'Soundscapes: The Tuning of the World' (selections)
Fourth Week: sources of sound (literature). Reading, F. Kafka's 'The Burrow.'
Fifth Week: sources of sound (music). Reading, L. Kramer's 'Why Classical Music Still Matters,' and J-F Lyotard, 'Music, Mutic.'
Sixth Week: sources of sound (radio). Reading, T. Adorno's 'Radio Physiognomics' and J.Mowitt, 'Avuncular Listening.'
Seventh Week: sources of sound (film). Reading, M. Chion, 'Audio-Vision' (selections).
Eighth Week: sources of sound (nature). Reading, H.D. Thoreau, 'Sounds'
Ninth Week: making sounds I. Reading, G. Agamben's 'The Sacrament of Language.'
Tenth Week: making sounds II. Reading, K. Bijsterfeld's 'The City of Din.'

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours270.00
Total Contact hours30.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)300.00

Private study

Students will be expected to prepare outside class for each seminar. They must read, take notes, listen to relevant pedagogical examples, prepare to share their insights/examples with peers. They will also be expected to prepare for an in-class presentation.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Presentations will be evaluated by the module leader throughout the semester. Written and oral commentary will be provided to each student on all assessed work. Attendance monitoring.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Assignment5000 words75.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

There is no reading list for this module

Last updated: 29/04/2022 15:22:38


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