Spring 2019

Listening, Hearing, and the Human

Listed in: Anthropology and Sociology, as ANTH-445  |  Music, as MUSI-445


Jeffers L. Engelhardt (Section 01)
Darryl Harper (Section 01)


(Offered as MUSI 445 and ANTH 445) If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? A provisional answer from the field of sound studies is: no, the falling tree produces vibration, but does not make a sound absent a listening, hearing human subject. Take another step, and we arrive at ethnomusicologist John Blacking’s time-honored (but not unproblematic) definition of music as “humanly organized sound” and “soundly organized humanity.” In this seminar, we linger at the intersections of sound and music, listening and hearing to learn about the human. What happens as we encounter music, sound, and voice as forms of vibration available to our senses rather than as texts and sonic objects? How are listening and hearing culturally specific practices shaped by particular histories, identities, technologies, hierarchies of the senses, capitalist desires, human ecologies, concepts of ability and disability, and the work of performers, scholars, and sound artists? In addressing these questions through readings in music, sound, media studies, and anthropology, media projects and listening exercises; we will employ what Pauline Oliveros calls “deep listening” (an ethical practice of listening to others and to music) as a research methodology. Seminar work will benefit from visiting scholars and artists and culminate in scholarly, creative, or media-based projects designed in consultation with the professor. Fulfills either the departmental seminar requirement or the comprehensive exam requirement for the major.

Requisite: Music 241 and 242, or consent of the instructor. Spring semester. Professors Engelhardt and Harper.


Artistic Practice, Attention to Research, Attention to Speaking, Attention to Writing, Transnational or World Cultures Taught in English


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2019, Spring 2021