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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures : Common Courses (School of Lit, Lang and Cult)

Postgraduate Course: Sound and Cinema (CLLC11198)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummarySound is an essential component of cinema as an audio-visual medium and as such is fundamental for the viewer's engagement with and understanding of film. Through an interdisciplinary, theoretical approach, the course will introduce students to major theories of film sound and some philosophical approaches to aurality. Particular emphasis will be given to screen sound's ethics and aesthetics.
Course description In the course, we will examine sound's significance for our experience of film worlds and will use it to explore ethical and aesthetic questions related to voice, sound and music. What does it mean to hear a sound whose source remains visually and narratively unknown? How can the voice in cinema elaborate on the ethico-political dimension of the physical body which produces it? In what ways does asynchronicity produce a disruptive aesthetics able to challenge the traditional status of the moving image?

Combining theories from film studies, sound studies and philosophy, the course theoretically investigates the many ways in which sound in film has been used and understood in its often-conflicting relationship with the image. While more traditionally relegated to a secondary role in narrative cinema, sound can establish a variety of relations with its visual counterpart and can also overtake it. We will look at how sound in cinema articulates a broad range of meanings well beyond a purely narrative function, engaging with a range of films. We will also explore sound's ethico-political dimension and its troubled relationship with the human body in a number of films dealing with issues of gender, race and class.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Students on LLC MSc programmes get first priority to this course. If you are not on an LLC course, please let your administrator or the course administrator know you are interested in the course. Unauthorised enrolments will be removed.
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  20
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 11, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 11, Summative Assessment Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 172 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Coursework 100%
1 x 1000-word short essay (30%)
1 x 3000-word essay (70%)
Feedback The first, relatively short essay, due at the middle of the semester, provides a forward feedback opportunity in advance of the final essay. In addition to individual feedback on both essays, summary feedback will be provided to the class.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Understand the role of sound in cinema.
  2. Analyse the way in which sound contributes to meaning in film.
  3. Critically engage with major theories of film sound.
  4. Express ideas in an academic format.
Reading List
Altman, Rick (ed.). 1992. Sound Theory, Sound Practice. New York: Routledge.
Chion, Michel. 1994. Audio-Vision: Sound on Screen. New York: Columbia University Press.
Beck, Bernard. (2019). The Next Voice You Hear: BlacKkKlansman, Sorry to Bother You, and Crazy Rich Asians. Multicultural Perspectives, 21(1): 19-22.
Branigan, Edward. 2010. Soundtrack in Mind. Projections, 4(1): 41-67.
Whittaker, Tom. 2017. Locating the Voice in Film. New York: Oxford University Press.

Buhler, James, & Neumeyer, David. (2015). Hearing the Movies: Music and Sound in Film History. 2nd edn. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Cavarero, Adriana. 2005. For More than One Voice: Toward a Philosophy of Vocal Expression. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Chion, Michel. 1999. The Voice in Cinema. New York: Columbia University Press.
Rogers, Holly (ed.). 2015. Music and Sound in Documentary Film. New York: Routledge.
Silverman, Kaja. 1988. The Acoustic Mirror; The Female Voice in Psychoanalysis and Cinema. Indianapolis: Indiana University Press.

Further Reading:

Kassabian, Anahid. 2001. Hearing Film: Tracking Identifications in Contemporary Hollywood Film Music. New York; London: Routledge.
Gorbman, Claudia. 1987. Unheard Melodies: Narrative Film Music. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Lawrence, Amy. 1991. Echo and Narcissus: Women's Voices in Classical Hollywood Cinema. Berkeley; Oxford: University of California Press.
Nancy, Jean Luc. 2007. Listening. New York: Fordham University Press.
Weis, Elisabeth & Belton, John (eds.). 1985. Film Sound: Theory and Practice. New York: Columbia University Press.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Critical Thinking; Academic Writing; Aesthetic Judgement
Keywordssound,cinema,voice,music,ethics,film-philosophy,Film Theory,aesthetics
Course organiserDr Chiara Quaranta
Course secretaryMr Callum Lennie
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