ARTH 593
Sound/Image: Theories and Practices in Art History
Last Offered Spring 2022
Division I
This course is not offered in the current catalog

Class Details

This seminar serves as an introduction and deep dive into issues of sound in the visual arts. While we will examine modern and contemporary examples of sound art and multimedia work, this course considers sound, the aural imagination, and practices of listening much more expansively to probe the theoretical, conceptual, as well as technological, aesthetic, and reception issues surrounding sound in visual art. Course readings will combine art historical accounts with texts from philosophy and sound studies. We will read Michael Gaudio on representations of “the New World” in colonial America, consider recent attention paid to sound and the infiltration of sound recording media in nineteenth- and early-twentieth century America (by Rachel DeLue, Leo Mazow, and Asma Naeem), delve into the politics and poetics of European avant-garde performance, the cross-pollination of musical and artistic experimentation in 1960s New York and elsewhere (John Cage and Pauline Oliveros in connection with the worlds of dance, performance, and Black Mountain College), and consider more contemporary practices, particularly by artists working in Asia, Brazil, and artists engaging in Deaf studies and critiques of ableist hearing ideologies (such as Christine Sun Kim). We will also draw heavily on writings on sound, sensation, art (and film) by twentieth-century continental philosophy (Roland Barthes, Jean-Luc Nancy, Gilles Deleuze) as well as recent work by contemporary theorists probing the intersections of the sonic with race, gender, and politics (among them Salomé Voegelin and Robin James), as well as other topics from sound studies such as the mediation of technology, social and historical frameworks (such as Alain Corbin’s study of the culture of the senses in the 19th-century French countryside), and the “ontological” turn and focus on materiality (Christoph Cox, Steve Goodman).
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 16
Expected: 16
Class#: 3804
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: Students will each be responsible for introducing key themes or questions from the readings in one class session. They will also complete a short paper focused on experimenting with sound/image ekphrasis (how do we write histories of sound?). The final project will be a research paper (approximately 20 pages), on which they will give a presentation in class near the end of term while the project is in its development stage.
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: MA students, then art history major undergrads
Distributions: Division I

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