|Announcing the Year of Sound: Theme Year 2013-2014
April 9, 2013,
Volume 59, No. 28
Humans experience sound in a wide spectrum—from acute detection, to degrees of perception, to profound deafness. At times, we seek out specific sounds and pay attention. Other times, we try (not always successfully) to ignore or escape sounds. For most people, sound is a constant, on- going and often unexamined part of life.
In 2013-2014, the Year of Sound will be an opportunity for Penn’s schools and academic centers to consider the role of sound in our lives. We encourage exploration of a wide range of topics. A few suggestions are listed below—we look forward to creative programming in these and many other areas.
- Biology: Auditory feedback and vocal learning; the effect of sound on environments; the study of complex motor behaviors.
- Writing: Spoken word poetry; recitations and oratory.
- Medicine: Aspects of sound and hearing, including hearing loss; the role of sound in diagnosis.
- Linguistics:The specific role that sounds play in language and in defining a particular place and culture through dialect, patois and slang.
- Psychology: How human beings process speech; the impact of sound on our thoughts and emotions.
- Cinema Studies: The development of sound in film; the use of film scoring to enhance understanding and plot—and on the other side, the long history of film without sound. (In 2012, The Artist became the first silent film in 83 years to win the Best Picture Oscar.)
- Engineering: Research in areas including robotics and analysis of sound wave patterns; the design and implementation of technologies including digital recording and signal processing.
- Sound Systems: For decades, ethnomusicologists have explored the relationship between music and culture. More recently, the field has expanded to consider the larger issue of sound systems —music as well as natural sound—in defining a culture.
- Urban Culture: Sound as a defining aspect of urban environments; noise pollution.
- Music: Understanding how and why music appeals to us; the role of rhythm (natural and man-made) and human response.
Year of Sound Grants Program
To further the goals of the theme year, the Office of New Student Orientation and Academic Initiatives will sponsor Year of Sound grants that will support opportunities for programs and research. The Grants Committee will evaluate each proposal based on the strength of its relationship to the topic, the quality and innovation of the project, and its potential to engage and involve the Penn community. We encourage multi-disciplinary and/or collaborative projects between Penn student organizations and academic departments/programs.
Proposals can be submitted directly through the Year of Sound website. Grants of up to $750 are available to Penn faculty, students and staff, either individually or in groups. There will be some additional funding available for special projects–generally, larger conferences, speakers or special symposia that are co-sponsored by several Penn Schools or Centers. Examples of programs that received additional funding during the Year of Proof include a talk by Barry Scheck, founder of The Innocence Project, and a day-long interdisciplinary symposium on the nature of proof.
Year of Sound Grant guidelines and application forms are available online at www.themeyeargrants.org Submitted proposals will be reviewed in cycles beginning May 1, 2013.
For more information, please contact: David Fox, director of New Student Orientation and Academic Initiatives at email@example.com or (215) 573-5636.
Adam Bradley's Book of Rhymes: Penn Reading Project Book (2013-2014)
The Provost, the Council of Undergraduate Deans and the Office of New Student Orientation and Academic Initiatives are pleased to announce that Book of Rhymes: The Poetics of Hip Hop by Adam Bradley will be the text for the 2013-2014 Penn Reading Project (PRP). On the afternoon of Monday, August 26, 2013, groups of first-year students and faculty leaders will discuss the book as part of New Student Orientation for the Class of 2017. (Please note that this year PRP will take place on Monday, rather than Sunday.)
Bradley’s book is a systematic analysis of hip hop understood through the lens of history and contemporary poetry. The book’s chapters are close examinations of hip hop’s rhythm, rhyme, wordplay, style, storytelling and signifying. In recommending Book of Rhymes for PRP, the Year of Sound steering committee noted the aptness of hip hop as an area of exploration because it encompasses sound both in music and in poetry and is an example of how sound plays a vital cultural, social and political role. Many students will be familiar with hip hop, but probably will not have explored it in an intellectual context. With this in mind, Book of Rhymes was particularly admired because it is an academic work and at the same time is understandable to non-specialists.
PRP, now entering its 23rd year, was created as an introduction for incoming freshmen to academic life at Penn. Past PRPs have included John Patrick Shanley’s Doubt, Jane McGonigal’s Reality is Broken, Rose George’s The Big Necessity, Neil Shubin’s Your Inner Fish, Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Lawrence Lessig’s Free Culture, Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography, Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis, Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia—as well as Thomas Eakins’ painting, The Gross Clinic. Information about the PRP and its history can be found at www.yearofsound.org
Faculty members in all 12 schools are invited to take part as PRP discussion leaders. A copy of the text will be sent to discussion leaders and students in July, along with additional information about the Reading Project. If you wish to sign up, you may go directly to the database: www.rescomp.upenn.edu/prpleaders (If you registered last year, you can simply update your information and also indicate if you’ll participate in this year’s prep session and lectures.)