MUSIC 576: Critical Theory Of Music
Actual Life in a Virtual World
We are all virtual these days, but maybe we always have been. In this course we will examine the ways the concepts 《real》 and 《virtual》 inform approaches to questions like “what is truth”, “why make art”, “what role does technology play in our lives”, "what does it mean to treat other people ‘ethically’?” As we will see, each of these questions appeals to the highly equivocal notions of reality and virtuality in distinct but overlapping ways. This exploration will take us through a variety of art forms (music, film, literature, video games) as well as recent studies and classic texts on the question "what is really real?"
Critical Responses [25%]
Two students will be called on at random (using a random number generator) each session to provide a response to the weekly reading as a means of facilitating discussion. The response should comprise a set of questions that draw on the reading, but it can be somewhat open-ended and raise generally applicable questions as well. Reading is the crux of this course. You should be prepared to orally summarize everything you read (this will include taking notes while reading). Try to be specific about the things you don't understand and why you don't understand them. It's ok not to know something (I don't know almost everything), but the goal is to hone our curiosity, to adopt a spirit of adventure in the face of the unknown and to push to the limits of what can be thought.
Project Presentations [25%]
Students will give a 20-30-minute presentation on their final papers/projects.
There will be two options for the final: a 15-page research paper OR an original artwork that responds to the artworks and concepts we cover in the class together with a shorter theoretical statement (5-6 pages). Students must meet with the instructor by the end of the 5th week of the quarter to discuss plans for the final paper/project.
Week 1: Introduction
Week 3: Mimesis and truth
- Plato: Republic, bks. VII/X
- Aristotle: Poetics (excerpts)
- Nietzsche: On Truth and Lying in a Non-moral Sense
Week 4: Immersion
Weeks 5-6: Phantasmagoria
Week 7: Ethics
- Hodge, The Truth Within the Illusion: on the Interplay of Psychoacoustics, Musical Composition, and Ethics
Week 8: The symbolic order
- Rudd, So Good, They Named It Twice? A Lacanian Perspective on Virtual Reality from Literature and the Other Arts
- Kristeva, Powers of Horror, Approaching Abjection, pp. 1-18
Week 9: Simulation and simulacra
- Baudrillard, The Precession of Simulacra
- Knakkergaard, The Music That’s Not There
- Hodge, On Hyperreality in Spaghetti Westerns
Week 10: Presentations
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