I’m delighted to accept a position as Lecturer at Tufts University, where I will teach “Music, Technology, and Digital Culture” in the Department of Music. The opportunity to teach the course nicely dovetails with my continuing dissertation research on similar topics. Here’s a tentative course description:
We will explore questions related to music and technology by analyzing a series of case studies from the 20th and 21st centuries. How does the portability of sound affect how we listen and what we hear? How does the way we define musical instruments reflect changing ideas about what counts as music? How has the rise of digital cultures changed fan engagement? Should new technologies raise concerns about the weaponization or standardization of music and sound, or should they give reason for optimism, as they empower people to create and circulate new forms of music in new ways? In order to explore these questions, we will consider the extent to which technology reflects culture and the extent to which it produces culture.
Case studies include: phonograph as a tool for moral cultivation in U.S., hip hop in Ghana, hologram performers in Japan, Jimi Hendrix and the iconography of the electric guitar, cassette sermons in Cairo, the sounds of music and warfare in Iraq, air guitar competitions in Finland, digital radio in Grand Theft Auto, feminist histories of electronic music, auto-tune as a musical instrument, and amateur performances of “All the Single Ladies” on YouTube.
Rather than separate the course into historical and contemporary sections, each week’s assignments will pair historical and contemporary examples, in order to demonstrate how the rise of digital cultures raises new and longstanding questions related to music and performance. The course materials consist of both academic readings and media.