Sound and Visual Media

Major Research Paper assignment
Part 1: Proposal and Preliminary Annotated Bibliography

** you may take a one week extension and hand your paper in without penalty on Week
12, NOV. 26 (your paper will be graded with minimal comments)
Length: 7 – 8 pages (NOT incl. headers & bibliography)
This paper will critically engage one of the core questions, ideas, concepts or practices
DESCRIPTIVE. The paper should exhibit original research and include sources that go beyond
the class readings.
The two main foci of this class are (a) the study of sound and aurality as a social, technological
and aesthetic practice, and (b) the relationship between these aural practices and related or
associated visual media. With this in mind, this paper should engage some aspect of either of
these questions. Ideally, your paper will draw on some problem, issue or insight from class that
has sparked your attention. To help you along this path I offer some general questions and
ideas. These are only suggested topics, so feel free to develop one on your own or in
conjunction with me. If you’d like my help developing a topic, please see me in person during
office hours.
Instructions for Research Proposal and Annotated Bibliography
Your proposal should provide a brief outline of the topic your paper will be exploring. It should
clearly identify and explain the primary research question animating your investigation, as well
as provide a justification for why this question is relevant within the context of this course. The
annotated bibliography should have 2 scholarly sources, none of which are assigned as course
readings (you can use course readings and/or non-scholarly as sources for your final paper, but
NOT for the proposal). Each bibliographic entry should provide (1) a properly formatted
bibliographic entry, (2) a brief summary of the source, and (2) a brief description of how it is
appropriate to your chosen research topic.
Suggested Research Topics
1) Explore the history of a particular form of creative aural practice, and explore its connection
to related visual practices. For e.g.
– phonography or DJ-ing as a cultural form
– acoustic architecture
– sound poetry
– the development of multi-channel audio installations
– sound design for film, video, gaming, theater, television, etc.
2) Explore the work and ideas of a particular sound artist, discussing and contextualizing their
work historically and theoretically.
3) What are some intersections between sound (or visual) art as a “high” cultural practice and
related or similar applications in the realm of popular culture? For example, how might you
relate the radiophonic work of John Cage to that of Scanner? Are there grounds to compare the
Dadaist collage art of John Heartfield and the music of Negativland? Can we compare the
music videos of Director X to experimental film or videomakers?
4) Compare the sound practice of a given communication medium in two or more cultural,
social or historical contexts. For e.g.,
– How does the approach/treatment/practice of sound in Indian cinema differ from American
(or Chinese, Italian, or French, etc.) cinema?
– How does sound of contemporary theater differ from the theater of Shakespeare’s time?

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