University Writing Classes: ENG 380W "How We Listen"

Two of the classes I’m taking are 380-level senior classes that require a lot of writing, which will fulfill the writing requirement for my degree.

ENG 380W: How We Listen

I had no idea that there was a branch of academia that deals with sound and its growth through technology, along with its incorporation and evolution in culture. Did you?

I was excited about this course because it would have gone hand in hand, very nicely, with the music composition course that got canceled. If a composer needs to know how to do one thing, it is to listen. The text for the course is Analog Days: The Invention and Impact of the Moog Synthesizer by Trevor Pinch (a professor at Cornell) and Frank Trocco.

Incidentally, the information I was trying to glean from the Music Office when I encountered Prof. Loy was whether or not the Music Department still owns a whopping big (room-sized!) synthesizer that was installed in the basement of the Fine Arts building at least 45 years ago. I heard of it only just before I left BU in 1985, disappointed that I never even knew of its existence! Typically, no one in the Music Department seems to know anything about it, typically, doesn’t tell composition majors that the machine exists, and, typically, seems unable to hire composition teachers! >Grrrr!<

Parenthetically, I have a mind to go right on to my Master’s in composition simply so I’ll be available to teach the composition courses for the students who want them! I think that would be a lot of fun. Me, Fester, teaching at BU! I find that a very enjoyable prospect.

Anyway, the course is a lot of fun, I’m learning a lot, stretching my horizons and my way of thinking, and hopefully retaining enough of the hard core of the course to be able to apply it to future composition projects.

The course goal is to change how we listen and how that differs from hearing. The two are, in the English languages, almost synonyms, but in other languages and cultures there are lots of words that distinguish between the two – rather like the Eskimos who have many words for snow.

There are practical exercises, two listening projects, three papers to write, a midterm exam, and a final paper to be presented orally in front of the class. There are blogs to read, papers and articles to read, podcasts which must be “listened” to, and class participation exercises which are, so far, a lot of fun.

Professor Stoever-Ackerman is a pro: she has all of her course materials in front of her, she deals with the sometimes quirky technology in the lecture hall, and is recipient of a fellowship at the Cornell Sound Studies Institute! She’s very good in class, engages all of the students, knows what she’s talking about and how to present it.

All in all I’m very happy with this course – it clearly fits beautifully into my goals and aspirations.


About fester60613

Evangelical Antireligionist.
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