On two occasions I have dedicated the first part of the U.S. History survey to sound. The course was built loosely around the ideas expressed in Mark Smith’s Listening to Nineteenth-Century America, i.e., that antebellum perceptions of sound were different in the North and South and that disconnect contributed to the divisions that ultimately resulted in the Civil War. I used multiple ‘sound bytes’ found on the internet, youtubes and films with the screen ‘muted’, and CDs to bring the consideration of soundscape into the classroom. Each student was required to write a paper that focused on sound, pending approval of their proposal and annotated bibliography.
I had laid that focus down for the time being but the technological resources that we have explored here (audacity, garage band, OHMS as a repository, podcasting) has brought the idea back into my planning for the future. Even more important is the atmosphere of brainstorming prompted by the readings and the seminar discussions (both in-session and in the hallway, at lunch, during the walk to ‘campus’, — fellowship). I can now provide students with much better instruction of the possibilities for innovative projects — and thus, fairly require that of them. Instead of simply requiring papers I would work with them to create outward facing online expressions of their overall research topics using wordpress and omeka at a minimum.
Additionally, in the fall of 2017 I will be team-teaching a COPLAC (Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges http://www.coplac.org/ ) course. My teaching partner is Leland Turner of Midwestern University in Wichita Falls, Texas. Our students will hail from 8 campuses around the country (two per school). Obviously this is an online course (skyped for common meetings). We will focus on immigration into the various communities from which the students range. I now can envision sound and video becoming a part of the ‘outward facing’ projects that are an element of this overall program. I envision each duo of students creating several “Public Service Announcements” about the immigration history of their communities. Imaging approximately one minute in length both sound and image would be incorporated into these ‘spots.’ These video podcasts would then be embedded in the sites that each student group would build. The possibilities for ‘doing’ local oral history should abound given this focus and strategy.
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