Teaching with Sound

Visiting Speaker: Dr. Jennifer Fleeger, Associate Professor, Department of Media and Communication Studies, Ursinus College, Collegeville, PA

April 14, 2019 (9 a.m. - 11 a.m.)
Location TBA

Sound is a notoriously difficult subject to discuss because words become stand-ins for subjective experiences that defy categorization. But many of us in the arts and humanities teach material that either makes or implies sound, from novels depicting cityscapes to movie dialogue to musical manuscripts. This seminar details ways to free students from their reliance on the image when analyzing texts. We will use specific exercises involving detailing vocal characteristics, mapping audio spaces, and interpreting the same image using different soundtracks. We will then discuss strategies for classroom engagement, including how to craft creative assignments in which students create audio tours, podcasts, and performances. The seminar will be informed by the history of sound technology and aesthetics so that instructors and students will be more attentive to the ways that sound has shaped our perception of the world in different periods.

Jennifer Fleeger
Jennifer Fleeger began writing on the voice in 2009 with her article "How to Say Things with Songs: Al Jolson, Vitaphone Technology, and the Rhetoric of Warner Bros. in 1929" (Quarterly Review of Film and Video). Since that time, she has published Sounding American: Hollywood, Opera, and Jazz (Oxford), a book that examines how Hollywood used technology to represent operatic and jazz voices during the conversion to sound, and Mismatched Women: The Siren's Song Through the Machine (Oxford), each chapter of which pairs a singing woman with the development of a new technology for disseminating music (phonograph, radio, internet) in order to demonstrate our fascination with female voices and bodies that don't "match." Fleeger has continued to write about voices in a variety of media contexts, for example, in Italian cinema, with a piece on opera tenor Tito Schipa that appears in Locating the Voice in Film: Critical Approaches and Global Practices (Oxford); on the Nickelodeon Network, in The Routledge Companion to Film Music and Sound; and with cinematic robots in a forthcoming piece in The Oxford Handbook of Voice Studies. An Associate Professor in the Department of Media and Communication Studies at Ursinus College, she regularly teaches courses on sound and the voice in media. She is currently working on a critical biography of Marni Nixon, Hollywood's best known playback singer.

Sponsored by:
The Department of English and Film Studies
Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL) Visiting Speaker Grants