English R1B

Reading and Composition: Music and Noise

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
12 Spring 2018 Stancek, Claire Marie
MWF 9-10 225 Dwinelle

Book List

Harryman, Carla: Adorno's Noise; Philip, M. NourbeSe: Zong!; Stein, Gertrude: A Book of Alphabets and Birthdays; Woolf, Virginia: Mrs. Dalloway

Other Readings and Media

A course reader including work by John Clare, William Wordsworth, Mary Robinson, P. T. Barnum, and Michael Jackson


The word "noise" came from the Latin word "nausea" or "seasickness," before it developed in Middle English to mean "quarreling." "Music," on the other hand, came from the Greek word "mousa" and originally meant "art of the muses." Whereas noise combines implications of physical illness, excess, and discord, music, on the other hand, seems to describe orderly beauty and godly accomplishment. In this class, we will consider music and noise as much more closely related categories, perhaps even versions of one another. How and why do music and noise describe states of excessive embodiment? For whom would a sound be described as music, and for whom would it be noise? What extra-human forces vibrate continuously through these two descriptions of sound? Working from the premise that music and  noise describe that which is irreducible in art, whether it be pleasurable or disturbing, we will consider sound together by listening to music, reading poetry and novels, analyzing advertising, and watching films. Students will write short essays and creative projects, will keep a sound journal, and will write and revise a longer research project.

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