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Performing the Posthuman: Music and Auditory Culture in the Age of Animanities

MUSC 287
Fall 2020 not offered
Crosslisting: ENVS 287
Course Cluster and Certificates: Animal Studies

"Animanities" takes seriously the aural and performance worlds of the nonhuman. "Posthuman," according to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), refers to the idea that "humanity can be transformed, transcended, or eliminated either by technological advances or the evolutionary process; artistic, scientific, or philosophical practice which reflects this belief." This seminar engages questions of musical difference by addressing posthuman performance, the musicality of animals, music that imitates nonhuman sound worlds, and cross-species and multi-species performance. Throughout the course, we will think across varied types of sounds to explore and contextualize familiar questions about how we sing, play, perform, stage, and sound musical identity, examining the intersections among the humanities, science and technology studies, and the sonic arts. Our explorations will cross through the fields of musicology, ethnomusicology, and sound studies. By listening across different kinds of sound cultures, we will interrogate how traditions of listening shape our habits of perceiving others, how we hear nonhuman animals, how we incorporate nonhuman sounding into music composed by humans, how technology has played a role in the study and development of nonhuman and human musicality, and what it means to listen to and value sonic difference more broadly. Through discussions of musical and cultural difference that enrich ongoing discussions of race, gender, and sexuality, we will come to a stronger understanding of music's role in imagined and experienced natural worlds. Topics and case studies will include audio bird guides, new age nature recordings, multi-species "collaborative" performances, sampled and electronically rendered animal and nature performance in digital video games, wildlife field recordings and documentary sound design, forms of animal and environmental mimesis used by composers, the way nonhuman animal behavior influenced experimental music communities, and descriptions of the musicking of nonhuman animals by the National Audubon Society and other wildlife guides and field recording initiatives. This seminar draws on the classroom community's interdisciplinary backgrounds and interests as well as readings and case studies that cross and challenge disciplinary boundaries. Students can succeed in this course without previous musical knowledge.
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: HA MUSC
Course Format: SeminarGrading Mode: Graded
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: None
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (ENVS-MN)(ENVS)(MUSC)

Last Updated on JUL-19-2024
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