The two main foci of this class are (a) the study of sound and aurality as a social,
technological and aesthetic practice, and (b) the relationship between these aural practices
and related or associated visual media. With this in mind, this paper should engage some
aspect of either of these questions. Ideally, your paper will draw on some problem, issue or
insight from class that has sparked your attention. To help you along this path I offer some
general questions and ideas. These are only suggested topics, so feel free to develop one
on your own or in conjunction with me. If you’d like my help developing a topic, please
see me in person during office hours.
Instructions for Research Proposal and Annotated Bibliography
Your proposal should provide a brief outline of the topic your paper will be exploring. It
should clearly identify and explain the primary research question animating your
investigation, as well as provide a justification for why this question is relevant within the
context of this course. The annotated bibliography should have 2 scholarly sources, none
of which are assigned as course readings (you can use course readings and/or nonscholarly as sources for your final paper, but NOT for the proposal). Each bibliographic
entry should provide (1) a properly formatted bibliographic entry, (2) a brief summary of
the source, and (2) a brief description of how it is appropriate to your chosen research
Suggested Research Topics
1) Explore the history of a particular form of creative aural practice and explore its
connection to related visual practices. For e.g.
– phonography or DJ-ing as a cultural form
– acoustic architecture
– sound poetry
– the development of multi-channel audio installations
– sound design for film, video, gaming, theater, television, etc.
2) Explore the work and ideas of a particular sound artist, discussing and
contextualizing their work historically and theoretically.
3) What are some intersections between sound (or visual) art as a “high” cultural
practice and related or similar applications in the realm of popular culture? For
example, how might you relate the radiophonic work of John Cage to that of
Scanner? Are there grounds to compare the Dadaist collage art of John Heartfield
and the music of Negativland? Can we compare the music videos of Director X to
experimental film or videomakers?
4) Compare the sound practice of a given communication medium in two or more
cultural, social or historical contexts. For e.g.,
– How does the approach/treatment/practice of sound in Indian cinema differ from
American (or Chinese, Italian, or French, etc.) cinema?
– How does sound of contemporary theater differ from the theater of Shakespeare’s