Undoing/Unknowing Listening

MA Seminar taught at the Sound Studies and Sonic Arts program at the Universität der Künste Berlin, Summer Semester 2022.

The idea of listening as being “the opposite” of vision might be already long outdated in much of sound studies thinking. Yet historical and contemporary approaches to what it is that listening does and can do still remain closely tied to the notion of listening as a way of making the world knowable through sound. To listen – so it is thought and taught – is to comprehend and apprehend, to learn and discern, to list and make exist. Yet to think listening in this way implies an imbalanced power relationship that might seem to be forever immutable, rather than an affective encounter that is both producer and product of power, of subjects and objects, actors and agents, in constant flux. If to listen is to know the world, then we might need to rethink what it is from the world that listening (tries to) make known, as well as by whom, and for whom, and with which purposes.

This seminar interrogates listening as an extractive method, by exploring and experimenting with anti- and decolonial methodologies, poetics, and processes for sound studies. We will read mostly from sources that are not always necessarily relating to sound yet speak to modes of practicing theory as an embodied, poetic gesture – which includes listening and the sonic.

Full Syllabus (PDF)