African 605: Sound & African Modernity: Digitizing the Body & Soul of the Nation

Reginold Royston

3 credits

Spring 2018

This course examines sound and technology as tools of cultural invention and identity in contemporary African life. How do music and its mediums construct national belonging in Africa and the diaspora? What are the embodied senses of these? Posthumanism, new media and globalization are examined against competing theories of modernity through the writings of Achille Mbembe, Yvonne Daniels, Alexander Weheliye and others. Music subcultures in which dance elements are essential are theorized as mediums for Black social and technological modernity. We also examine digital production and media distribution techniques for sound cultures including, pop music, podcasts, radio, and online mediums such as Spotify and YouTube. Literature primarily comes from African Studies, New Media Studies, technology and sound studies, with special attention to street dance cultures and ‘neotraditional’ dance practices in Ghana, Senegal, South Africa, and USA (Chicago/NY/Atlanta/Bay Area).

Students are expected to write 1 paper (2 papers graduate), and develop 1 sound-based multimedia project. Active class participation, short quizzes and weekly reading responses also make up a significant portion of the final grade.

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