AMST-A 350 / LATS-L 400
Listening to America
Instructor: Dr. José Anguiano
Campus Office: 814 E. Third Street
Office Hours: TBD
Class Meets: Tu / Th 4:00pm-5:15pm
For twenty-five centuries, Western knowledge has tried to look upon the world. It has failed to understand the world is not for the beholding. It is for hearing. It is not legible, but audible.
I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
—Walt Whitman “I Hear America Singing”
This course explores social, historical and cultural constructions of America through sound and music. This course begins from the premise that listening engenders unique subjects and methods from which to analyze the American experience. As such music and sound are a powerful physical, social and affective force that create a site of dialogue (within and amongst different communities), a source of creative pleasure and arena of struggle that confronts large socio-political issues—especially amongst underrepresented and marginalized communities. Central to this perspective is the notion that the value and function of music is built and shared collectively by the communities that produce and listen to music.
The class will listen to (analyze) selected soundtracks of American life past and present as a sonic archive of American history and identity. The course is broken down into thematic categories central to American musical life such as: intercultural communication; the commodification of music; sonic stereotypes; gender ideology; and national identity. Ultimately, students will learn to listen deeply to music for the social, cultural and historical lessons embedded within the notes.