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C385 Audio Production as Service: Sounds and Stories in the Path of I-69

posted Apr 29, 2011, 9:51 AM by Mack Hagood   [ updated Apr 29, 2011, 1:47 PM ]

2011 Summer Session I: M, T, R 3:00-5:00 p.m.


In this service learning class, we will use audio production to document and evaluate coming changes to the Southern Indiana soundscape. Breaking into small teams, students will interview rural residents and record human and natural sounds in the pathway of the controversial new Interstate 69 extension. Though there will be readings, we will mostly learn through doing—practicing ethnographic and audio production methods while serving the community. The stories and soundscapes we record will be edited for an audio documentary broadcast on community radio station WFHB. We will also archive and share our recordings, photos, and fieldnotes through Traditional Arts Indiana.

What is a soundscape? Over the past decade an increasing number of artists, musicians, and scholars have turned an ear to the sonic dimension of everyday life and lived space.  Focusing on the “soundscape” means paying close attention to the natural, mechanical, and mediated sounds that help shape our lives. It also means critically examining—and even intervening in—human activities that alter the aural world. The sounds of I-69 will radically alter the soundscape and aural experience of local people. As scholars, we will theorize the nature of these changes. As community activists, we will draw attention to the soundscape as a threatened aspect of the environment.  

What will we be doing in class? We will read materials on three topics: 1) soundscapes and human experience of sound, 2) ethnographic research methods, and 3) audio production techniques. Skills learned in class will include audio recording, sound editing, and ethnographic interviews, transcription, and analysis. Visiting lecturers will include local activists, folklorists, and audio producers. Students will spend much of their time “in the field,” doing interviews, taking photos, and making field recordings. You will compile an ethnographic portfolio, archive your data, and write a five-to-seven page paper discussing your work.

Is this class for me? Students with interests in sound, ethnography, media production, journalism, and/or environmental issues will particularly enjoy this class. It is recommended (but not required) to have prior experience in at least one of two areas: ethnography (C122 or a class in folklore, cultural anthropology, or ethnomusicology) or production (audio, video, or journalism).