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123252 AR Literature Course - Literature 1/2 (MA) British/Irish/New English & Cultural Studies (2019W)

(Literary) Sound Studies

5.00 ECTS (2.00 SWS), SPL 12 - Anglistik
Continuous assessment of course work

in preparation


Note: The time of your registration within the registration period has no effect on the allocation of places (no first come, first served).


max. 25 participants
Language: English


Classes (iCal) - next class is marked with N

There will be no class on:
* 11th October (because I have to be outside of Vienna for a hiring committee) and on
* 15th November (because I am attending a conference in Wuppertal).

We will make up for this lost class either by starting at 12 sharp or by finishing at 14 sharp for six weeks or by doing the full 2 hours for a few weeks. We'll discuss this in the first lesson on 18th October.

Friday 18.10. 12:00 - 14:00 Raum 4 Anglistik UniCampus Hof 8 3E-EG-19
Friday 25.10. 12:00 - 14:00 Raum 4 Anglistik UniCampus Hof 8 3E-EG-19
Friday 08.11. 12:00 - 14:00 Raum 4 Anglistik UniCampus Hof 8 3E-EG-19
Friday 22.11. 12:00 - 14:00 Raum 4 Anglistik UniCampus Hof 8 3E-EG-19
Friday 29.11. 12:00 - 14:00 Raum 4 Anglistik UniCampus Hof 8 3E-EG-19
Friday 06.12. 12:00 - 14:00 Raum 4 Anglistik UniCampus Hof 8 3E-EG-19
Friday 13.12. 12:00 - 14:00 Raum 4 Anglistik UniCampus Hof 8 3E-EG-19
Friday 10.01. 12:00 - 14:00 Raum 4 Anglistik UniCampus Hof 8 3E-EG-19
Friday 17.01. 12:00 - 14:00 Raum 4 Anglistik UniCampus Hof 8 3E-EG-19
Friday 24.01. 12:00 - 14:00 Raum 4 Anglistik UniCampus Hof 8 3E-EG-19
Friday 31.01. 12:00 - 14:00 Raum 4 Anglistik UniCampus Hof 8 3E-EG-19


Aims, contents and method of the course

Not all cultures are underpinned to the same degree by what Pythagoras called "the hierarchy of the senses", but this model - which distinguishes the so-called ‘noble’ senses (sight and hearing) from the so-called ‘base’ senses (touch, taste and smell) -, has been extremely influential for/in Western, print-based cultures. Pythagoras also refers to the observation that, among our five human senses, the visual is the one best developed in most people. The ensuing dominance of the visual in culture - only think of visual phrases connected to mental activity, understanding or concentration (‘let’s see’, ‘gaining insight’ or ‘to focus on something’) is often seen (pun intended) to be in cahoots with phallogocentrism. This gendered dominance of the written word is mirrored (pun intended) by the long-standing interest academic interest in visuality itself, as well as in all things visible and visual. But for a while now, scholars have been working on deconstructing the Pythagorean hierarchy of the senses, and some of them have been doing so by putting a stress (pun intended) on sound. This brought about the so-called ‘sonic turn’ in cultural studies, with its interest in the making and perceiving, storing and reproducing of sounds. Sounds are, in this context, understood as historic, social and cultural phenomena, indeed as the result of several "techniques of the body" (Mauss) both in production and reception.
When it comes to literature, it seems logical - given that traditionally (at least after the heyday of the radio play and before the invention of the audiobook) most literary texts come to us in printed form and we take them in through the eyes (at least once we have mastered our letters and are no longer being read to) -, that here, too, the visual has been at the centre of attention. But sound is an element of literature, too (think of performed plays, author readings or poetry slams), and, as we will discuss, even plays an important part in 'silent' reading. As you know as students of literature, all experience related through text is always already representational. In other words, images or any other visual impression a text may convey, is just as mediated by language as smell in literature or taste or touch or sound in literature is. Therefore, there is no good reason why literary scholars should not be interested in sounds, despite the fact that some cultural studies colleagues, who work on what they call 'real sounds', struggle to come to grips with this. And this is exactly where our class comes in. We are going to pick up useful theory concepts from cultural sound studies and then bring them into dialogue with the chosen literary objects of analysis.

i) to introduce you to scholarly texts within sound studies (theorising sound and its perception both in cultural and in literary objects); ii) to give you a sense of what role/s sounds played in historically specific moments and draw your attention to sonic as well as aural cultural practices; and iii) to help you develop a sensitivity for sounds in texts as well as sounds of texts. By the end of this class you will be able to do justice to a text’s representation of natural, vocal, non-vocal, musical sounds, its noises, silences.

Assessment and permitted materials

Regular attendance; regular preparation of assigned reading material; active participation in class; active participation in specialist team for one lesson per term; active participation in peer-feedback loop; three short written assignments (A1: 1000 words; A2: 1000 words; A3: 1500 words).

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

No more than two lessons may be missed without a medical reason certified by a doctor's note. If such a document is produced, a third lesson may be missed but is to be compensated for at the teacher's discretion. If no such document is produced or if more than three lessons are missed, this results in failing the course.

Active participation: 15%
Specialist task: 35%
Assignment 1 (1000 words): 15%
Assignment 2 (1000 words): 15%
Assignment 3 (1500 word): 20%

Students must attain at least 60% to pass this course.

Marks in %:
1 (very good): 90-100%
2 (good): 81-89%
3 (satisfactory): 71-80%
4 (pass): 60-70%
5 (fail): 0-59%

Examination topics

There will be no written exam.

Reading list

We are going to focus on Anglophone short stories (Poe; Lee; Shiel; Woolf; Joyce; Ballard; Danticat; Ishiguro) as our reading materials in this course, so we can pay close attention to sounds in and the sound of these concise texts. All stories as well as all scholarly articles will be made available on Moodle.

Background Reading:
• Daniel Morat/Hansjakob Ziemer (eds.), Handbuch Sound: Geschichte - Begriffe - Ansätze (2018), which is available as an e-book in our university library.
• Trevor Pinch/Karin Bijsterveld (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Sound Studies (2013)
• Michael Bull/Les Back (eds.), The Auditory Culture Reader (2015)
• Jonathan Sterne (ed.), The Sound Studies Reader (2012)

Association in the course directory

Studium: UF 344; MA 844; MA UF 046/507
Code/Modul: UF 4.2.4-323-325; MA4, MA6, MA7; M04A
Lehrinhalt: 12-3251

Last modified: Mo 07.09.2020 15:20