English 149 - Winter, 2016

Topics in Literature

    Topic: Literary Noise: Histories of Hearing

Class Information

Instructor: Weise, Peter
CRN: 43595
Time: TR 3:10-4:30
Location: 163 Olson


    Does our sense of hearing have a history? Ventriloquism was at times horrifying to auditors in the early American Republic and in early nineteenth-century Great Britain, whereas today one of the best-known ventriloquists is Jeff Dunham whose humor is popular in many parts of the globe. With such changes in mind we can begin to understand why Karl Marx argued that our senses depend on the whole labor of history to produce. This course is meant to give students a broad sense of the histories of hearing in British and American societies from the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries. Our focus will be on how drama, novels, and poetry can reveal this history, and in turn how this history influences the forms of literature. We will listen to music and other sounds occasionally in relation to this literature, but no musicological background is necessary. We will also read a few key theoretical texts in the field known as sound studies.


    Weekly short writing assignments, an explication paper, a research paper, and a final


    The Female American, Anonymous
    Between Two Acts , Woolf
    Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, Johnson
    Selection of Romantic poetry, Coleridge, Shelley
    Selection of letters, Thomas Watson
    Wieland, Brown
    Selection of poetry and letters, Pope
    The Tempest, Shakespeare