Schedule and Links to Readings

Unit 1 (Jan. 6, 8) — How Voices Get Made

Voices are both physical and metaphorical.  We are born with an ability to make vocal sounds, but we also develop and create our voices, or have our voices shaped and created for us by influences that surround us. In this opening unit we will introduce this course, and then explore what is a voice, and how voices get made.


Anne Karpf, “Preface,” and “How the Voice Achieves its Range and Power,” in The Human Voice: How This Extraordinary Instrument Reveals Essential Clues About Who We Are(2006), pp. 1-5; 21-32.

Jody Kreiman, Diane Sidtis, “Introduction: Why Should We Care About Voice Quality,” and “Neurological Foundations of Voice Production and Perception,” in Foundations of Voice Studies: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Voice Production and Perception(2011),pp. 1-4; 72-73.

Podcast Hidden Brain: “Finding Your Voice: How the Way We Sounds Shapes Our Identities,” Episode, July 15, 2019:

Unit 2 (Jan. 13, 15) — Making the World: Words, Language, and Other Symbols for Building Voice

This unit expands on the notion of “reveals” and “make ourselves” from the course description.  We will 1: consider the mechanisms of voice-as-maker, not just making ourselves but also our worlds; and 2: work to reveal the wider ramifications of our symbol choices (word, language, and other) in building/maintaining/destroying the relationships that constitute societies. 


Leanne Howe, “Tribalography: The Power of Native Stories.” in Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism 14, no. 1 (Fall, 1999): 117-125. 

Leslie Marmon Silko, Excerpt from Ceremony (2006), pp. 122-128.

Unit 3 (Jan. 22 ) — Reflections; Setting Up Voice and Sound

We will focus our one lecture this week on the review of concepts and issues covered so far, and use that to reflect on our ways of thinking and practicing as both scholars and students.  We will end by setting up the course’s next larger focus on voice and sound.

No additional readings will be assigned.  Instead we will focus on review of specific items we’ve already read, based on their on-going relevance.

Unit 4 (Jan. 27, Jan. 29) — Access to Voice: Power of Media in Making, Hearing, and Accessing Voices

How do we access others’ voices? And how do those voices shape and become shaped by film and media? In this unit, we will begin by exploring how processes of mediation and/or mediatization affect the ways that people can “have a voice.” We’ll also consider how the process of constructing media texts assigns value to some voices and not others. We’ll expand this conversation to discuss the role of voice and listening in forms of digital storytelling and participatory media. Throughout the week, we’ll consider how authenticity shapes our expectations and modes of watching, hearing, or listening when we encounter mediated voices, whether they are others’ voices or our own. 


Trinh T. Minh-Ha, “Mechanical Eye, Electronic Ear, and the Lure of Authenticity,” from When the Moon Waxes Red: Representation, Gender, and Cultural Politics (1991), 53-62. 

Tanje Dreher, “A Partial Promise of Voice: Digital Storytelling and the Limits of Listening” (2012), pp. 157-166.

**Optional/Additional Reading:  Nick Couldry, “Mediatization or Mediation?: Alternative Understandings of the Emergent Space of Digital Storytelling” (2008). 

Unit 5 (Feb. 3, Feb. 5) — Making Singers, Making Voices

In music history it is hard to imagine a topic and a musical practice so central as the expressive use of voice.  In this unit we will begin by generally considering this deep history, especially for western traditions.  Then with more specificity, we will learn about the training and disciplining of the classical operatic voice, which we can consider among the more extreme cultivations of vocal expressivity.  Through examples from actual singers and their training, we will expand our conversation to explore how such voices offer us insights into ways in which we control, discipline, authorize, even fear the emotionality and power invested in our voices. We will extend this knowledge from opera to other forms of singing (from art to pop) and to other forms of vocal and interpersonal expression.


Richard Wistreich, “Vocal Performance in the seventeenth century,” in The Cambridge History of Musical Performance (2012), pp. 398-400; 410-417.

Nina Sun Eidsheim, “Sensing Voice: Materiality and the lived body in singing and listening philosophy,” in Voice Studies: Critical approaches to process, performance and experience (2015), pp. 104-109.

Eidsheim, “Situating Snapper’s Five Fathoms Deep Opera Project,” excerpt from chapter “Music’s Material Dependency: What Underwater Opera Can Tell Us about Odysseus’s Ears,” in Sensing Sound: Singing & Listening as Vibrational Practice (2015), 39-40.

Unit 6 (Feb. 10, Feb. 12) —Voice, Sound, and Sense

When we perform in language we often use voice to give words special stress and meaning.  In this unit, we will consider how the gradations between speech and song are often dynamic and fluid, as each critically depends on embodied voices for gestures and inflections that create a unique kind of expressivity.  We will explore how performing with voice—by using words, sonic or lyrical gestures, and bodies—requires a shared understanding. It is often a thoroughly social act that reflects our relationships to others and to the ideas that surround us. We will also consider the boundaries between the human and the technological as recorded human voices increasingly have been juxtaposed with or replaced by cyborg voices.  The role of voice becomes critical in a digital world, as A.I. pervades not just technology and communication systems, but also shapes cultural forms and our everyday lives.


Simon Frith. “The Voice,” in Performing Rites: Evaluating Popular Music (1996), 183-202 (read complete chapter if time, but focus especially on 183-187).

Joseph Auner, “Sing it for me: posthuman ventriloquism in recent popular music,” Journal of the Royal Music Association 128 (2003): 98-122 (read complete article if time, but focus especially on 98-101; and 116-122).

Unit 7 (Feb. 19) — Reflections; Setting Up Voice as Knowledge and Identity

We will focus our one lecture this week on the review of concepts and issues covered over the last three units, and use that to reflect on our ways of thinking and practicing as both scholars and students.  We will end by setting up the course’s last focus on voice as knowledge and identity.

No additional readings will be assigned.  Instead we will focus on review of specific items we’ve already read, based on their on-going relevance.

Unit 8 (Feb. 24, Feb. 26) — Voice and Identity

All quarter we have suggested the notion that voice is metaphorical, and critically embedded within the social and cultural fabrics from which an utterance emerges (spoken, sung, and anything in between). In this unit, we will take on the complex process of sounding voices as a sounding of identities, and thus a carrier of meaning.  Voices carry verbal meaning.  We know that they perform emotions and can capture the rich nuances of feeling. But, we will also consider how voices are vital conveyers of culture, identity, and of power dynamics that involve not just vocalizers, but are also madeby listeners.  The nexus of voice, sound, culture, and identity is critical for unpacking how we voice ourselves and perceive others in communication.


Katherine Meizel, “A Powerful Voice: Investigating Vocality and Identity,” Voice and Speech Review 7:1 (2013): 267-274.

 Nina Sun Eidsheim, “What does the Acousmatic Question Offer Insight Into?” in “Introduction: The Acousmatic Question Who Is This?” Race of Sound: Listening, Timbre, and Vocality in African American Music (2019), pp. 9-14.

Unit 9 (Mar. 2, Mar. 4) — Translating Voice and Communication Into your Academic and Career Path

The importance of voice and communication is reflected within our daily lives and experiences in how we approach the world. In this latter unit, we will focus on individual goals and pursuits in connection with others, and then provide further frameworks for understanding the complexity of voice. 


Carol S. Dweck, “Developing Talent Through a Growth Mindset.” Olympic Coach 21.1 (2009), pp. 4-7.

Tara J. Yosso, “Whose culture has capital? A critical race theory discussion of community cultural wealth.” Race ethnicity and education 8.1 (2005): 69-91.

**Optional/Additional Reading: Jackelyn Ho, “These Are The Most Important Soft Skills For Employees To Have, According To Hiring Managers.” Inc. (2018).

Unit 10 (Mar. 9, Mar. 11) — Course Conclusion and Reflections 

In this last unit of our course we reflect on various themes, ideas, and ways of thinking and practicing drawn from the study of voice.  With this overview in mind, we will also contemplate the ways in which the main takeaways from this course could be applied to your college experience and future career habits of mind.


Jody Kreiman, “Epilogue: Defining and Studying Voice across Disciplinary Boundaries,” in The Oxford Handbook of Voice Studies, eds. Eidsheim and Meizel (2019), pp. 493-496.

University of California Office of the President online report, “Getting Hired: How the UC Prepares Students for the Workforce,”