Teaching

2014-15

COMM4015 – CRITICAL PERSPECTIVES ON DIGITAL CULTURE

This course will focus on the proliferation and social lives of digital media, as well as the various rhetorics, debates, hopes, and anxieties that have surrounded them, driving their development and consumption. The aim is to help students develop a nuanced and historically grounded view of these technologies, along with a capacity to compare and evaluate the various claims made about them. We will begin with a critical look at utopian narratives of cyberculture and “the virtual” as they helped shape early ideas about the digital, before giving way to the market- driven logics of the modern internet. From there, weekly readings and discussions will focus on various facets of contemporary digital and networked life as it has taken shape since the turn of the millennium. Themes will include: the marketing of digital life; user-generated content, participatory culture and critiques of “digital labour”; material and ecological dimensions of the digital; constructing managing identities across social media; surveillance culture and changing views on privacy; the ideologies of digital formats; and implications for the archive and cultural memory.

MUSI2603 – Survey of Computer Music Applications

This course will introduce students to computer-based music creation through a variety of commonly used software packages, including sound editors (WaveLab, Audacity), digital audio workstations (Cubase, Ableton Live), virtual instruments (Reason, Fruity Loops, Tassman), and other composition tools (including BEAP, MAX/MSP and Granulator). Lectures and in-class demonstrations will cover: digital recording, editing, processing, audio effects, and sound design; various forms of synthesis, approaches to sampling, beat-making, and sequencing; MIDI hardware and controllers; (re)mixing and mastering. All of the above will be grounded in readings and class discussions about sound, audio technology, and studio practice. Studio tools and techniques will be discussed in relation to specific musical examples and their cultural context. This course is open to students of all levels; prior experience with music software is NOT required and a process of learning-by-experimentation will be encouraged.

COMM4035A – Arts of Political Persuasion

This course traces a history of politically-motivated art practices across various media from the early-20th century to the present. In their official forms, these projects include efforts to mould or mobilize a citizenry. In their grassroots articulations, they are more often linked to protest, subversion, and the stirrings of revolution. The aim of this course is to help students recognize these practices, to contextualize and dissect their discursive interventions, and to see the endurance of their visual languages across media forms. Weekly discussions will examine: political motives in early modern art and graphic design; the invention modern ‘agitprop’ in revolutionary Russia; state propaganda from the World Wars to the Cold War; activist filmmaking; subversive media since Situationism; visual strategies in political Punk and Hip-Hop; Riot Grrrl zine culture; culture jamming the ‘New Economy’; net-art/net-activism; and agitational projects after YouTube and social media.

COMM2301 – Persuasion and Public Life

This course will introduce students to computer-based music creation through a variety of commonly used software packages, including sound editors (Audacity), digital audio workstations (Cubase, Ableton Live), virtual instruments (Reason, Tassman), and other composition tools (including BEAP, MAX/MSP and Granulator). Lectures and in-class demonstrations will cover: digital recording, editing, processing, audio effects, and sound design; various forms of synthesis, approaches to sampling, beat-making, and sequencing; MIDI hardware and controllers; (re)mixing and mastering. All of the above will be grounded in readings and class discussions about sound, audio technology, and studio practice. Studio tools and techniques will be discussed in relation to specific musical examples and their cultural context. This course is open to students of all levels; prior experience with music software is NOT required and a process of learning-by-experimentation will be encouraged.

Recent Courses

COMM4609B – Sonic Culture and Identity

The study of visual culture is now long-established, but it is only in the last decade that significant attention has turned to similar questions about sound. This upper-year course will introduce students to the growing scholarship on sonic culture, examining sound as a medium of communication and representation, but also as it participates in the shaping of ideas, social relations, and collective space. Class discussions and readings will survey the breadth of this emerging field, investigating the many ways that sound and identity are mediated by each other. Weekly themes will include: the sensory experience of sound; sound in theory; gender and class in audio culture; sonic relations in domestic space; the city as contested soundscape; the ‘audiogenesis’ of religious culture; iPods, headphones, and private aurality; radio and community; audio culture in ‘The Cloud’; disability and deaf culture; and sounded identities in music and the arts.

MUSI3104 – Popular Musics of Canada

This course provides a survey of significant developments in Canadian popular music from the late-19th Century to the present, with particular attention given to the period since 1945. Discussions will focus on the cultural and institutional context of musical activity in Canada, addressing issues of nation, (trans)national identity, multiculturalism, and the roles of media technologies. Throughout the course, we will critically examine discourses of ‘Canadianess’ as they have been applied to various musical sites, styles and communities.

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Select Guest Lectures

“Sound, Signal and Electronic Presence” for FILM 3901 The Cinematic Ghost: Issues of Technology, Theory and Culture.
“Sound System Culture and Franco Rosso’s Babylon” for FILM 2201 British Cinema.
“Black Atlantic Sonic Fictions” for ENGL 2107 Science Fiction.
“Electronic Popular Music Since 1970” for MUSI 2007 Popular Music Since 1945.
“Electronic Popular Music and the Avant-Garde” for MUSI 4006 Popular Music and the Avant-Garde.