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Sound Cultures

This module explores the interdisciplinary field of sound studies with attention to sound as cultural expression, creative practice, and a key component in the study of performance as communication. 

Learning Objectives

  • Broaden understandings of how sound articulates and demarcates social spaces and how sound-based practices negotiate social structures
  • Analyze developments and changes in global sound cultures throughout history
  • Describe the role of communicative media in shaping how sound is made, used, and heard
  • Engage with creative sound practices that intersect with other artistic, communicative, and technological media


Sound Cultures Course Requirements


Opportunities On and Off Campus: 

  • Participation in constellation of ongoing events, programs, performances and collaborations related to sound throughout SoC. 
  • Join emerging platform for a vibrant academic dialogue on sound sustained through yearly conferences on emerging topics related to sound, as well as regular visits from professionals in audio science, sound studies, sound art, aural health and sound industries worldwide. 
  • Access to physical resources, equipment and personnel at every level, from recording equipment and facilities to special courses, co-sponsored guest lecture series, production workshops and faculty. 
  • Follow the projects of MA students, potentially collaborating with that group to drive forward fresh ways of using sound as a way of doing scholarship. 
  • Potential publication of student work on Sounding Out! blog 
  • Exposure to global network of scholars, artists, and professionals in sound scholarship and sound industries that may lead to possible RA-ships, internships and other career opportunities 
  • Develop expertise in a particular region of the world through attention to sound cultures. As part of broader SoC efforts to focus sound-related programs and events on a particular region (e.g. South Asia, the Americas, and the Middle East and North Africa), student may meet key scholars and artists in the region, and become more active in area studies centers and programs on campus. 

Community Building Activities: 

  • Interaction with alums currently working in the field 
  • Attend productions and share responses at informal gatherings 
  • Participate in quarterly open forums to review challenges in fieldwork settings. 
  • Attending capstone presentations 
  • Engaging with MA students, their projects and attending MA shows over several years 
  • Attending and participation in related School of Communication events 
  • Attending and participation in Guest Speaker Series on Sound at SoC 
  • Attending designated group trips to local activities, exhibits, and productions relevant to cultural expression and history of sound 
  • Thinking globally about how a focus on sound contributes new perspectives on society and culture and sharing these insights with NU’s international community 


The Sound Cultures module culminates in a capstone experience that engages sound as the medium for a creative practice. Capstones may take on a variety of forms including but not limited to: sound as a mode and topic of scholarship (sound ethnography, cultural histories of sound); sound art and installation; and sound media production (soundmap, radio broadcast; podcast; film/video/stage sound design). 

In consultation with the module coordinator, the capstone will include: 

  • Development of creative or scholarly project that addresses a key issue in sound studies 
  • Documentation of ideas and processes that go into the creation of the capstone project 
  • ‘Analysis and Reflection’ Paper that interprets the capstone project and process by addressing the following questions: 1) What challenges and constraints emerged during the course of your capstone experience and how did you negotiate these? 2) How do you situate your choices regarding format, media, and mode of sound production within a particular genealogy of arts, culture, and research? 3) What contribution does your project make towards sound scholarship, art, and media, and relatedly, how does your project point to new directions, issues, and topics? 4) What are your plans in sustaining what you have learned and experienced in the Sound Cultures module? 


Sponsoring Department: Department of Performance Studies, in collaboration with RTVF

Module Coordinator (main student contact): Shayna Silverstein

Committee of Instruction:  Jacob Smith, Neil Verma, Aymar Jean Christian, Stephan Moore, Shayna Silverstein,

Module Advisor: Exal Iraheta

How to Enroll 

Open to all SoC students.

To apply contact Exal Iraheta,