Folklore | Cultures of Sound
F755 | 27207 | Fales

In the last several decades, observers of human culture have begun
to realize the extent to which their privileging of visual over
other sensory evidence has shaped both immediate interpretation and
long term disciplinary paradigms.  But efforts to redress a long
tradition of visiocentrism by focusing on the auditory worlds of
cultures separated historically or ethnographically from the
observer is a tricky business.  Research in human auditory
perception has shown listening to be a highly flexible sense,
producing sensation that varies across listeners and between
cultures.  This course will review two broad areas of scholarship:
1) we will look at recent attempts by researchers to document the
sonic environment of listeners at specific historical periods or in
particular cultural contexts; and 2) we will examine primary-source
accounts from members of cultures in which sound plays a
particularly prominent role.  Ideally, we will be able to compare
scholarly descriptions of sonic worlds deduced from the phenomenal
experience of resident listeners, with first-person descriptions
emerging directly from the experience the listeners themselves.  Our
objectives will be to examine the significance of auditory
experience as it resonates through nonauditory areas of human
thought and behavior, and to explore the methodological complexities
of research into the phenomenal experience of another perceiver.