ENGL 320 Sonic Studies Assignments

ENGL 320 Sonic Studies Assignments

The following includes a list of assignments and brief explanations. More detailed explanations will be provided in class, including grading rubrics. To access course policies, follow this link. To access the course schedule, follow this link. 



Assignments Grade Percentage
Assignment 1Composing Memoirs with Sound, Individual Project 30%
Assignment 2-Summary Synthesis Reports 30%
Assignment 3- Exploring Spaces and Sounds 20%
Assignment 4-Class Participation 20%



Assignment 1- Composing Memoirs with Sound, Individual Project

Students will use audio recording tools to record a “mini” album of sounds they encounter within their daily lives with accompanying commentary. The goal here is to explore what these sounds mean to you and why.  After drafting a list of 3-4 settings that occur around you, record these sounds and then edit them into tracks that are one to three minutes long. These tracks should be presented in an order that communicates a theme or idea, such as “sounds that remind me of home.” This assignment is an experiment with sound, style, genre and composition. The audio memoir should be creative and intended for a particular audience. Narration should not distract from the focus on the sounds themselves. Students will also provide a three to five-page summary of their reflections on the assignment including a script of any narration.

Assignment Objectives-

  1. Observe how sounds mediate all aspects of everyday life
  2. Use audio as a critical tool of composition while engaging questions of organization, style, audience, and representation
  3. Learn recording and editing skills


Assignment 2- Summary Synthesis Reports


To earn a passing [C-level] grade on these responses, you must compose a single-spaced, type-written text that is at least 600 words and integrates quotes and ideas from at least three previous readings.   B-level reports need to be at least 700 words and integrate quotes and ideas from at least four previous readings, and A-level reports will be at least 800 words and integrate quotes from at least five of our previous readings.  Responses will be due at the start of class.  [See policy on late work should you arrive after these have been collected.]  Your responses must accomplish the following three objectives:


Part 1. To briefly, concisely summarize in a sentence or two an important idea/point/argument presented in one of the readings assigned for that day. (Remember to include a significant quote from the author/s and a sentence explaining the importance of that quote or idea.  You need to illustrate that you have a command of what the author is arguing.)


Part 2. To make connections between (or synthesize) the main ideas treated in part 1 of your response to texts we have previously read in class. Do not refer back to the text you have quoted in your summary (Part 1) or any other readings assigned for that same day—think of this as a backward-looking activity, the goal of which is to demonstrate how you are connecting a point from a new reading to as many of our prior readings as you can.  In this way, you’ll want to think about common themes or ideas expressed in our previous readings as you engage each newly assigned text. The synthesis part of your report should comprise the bulk of your text (at least 450 words for C-level responses, 550 for B-level and 650 for A-level).  Refer to specific ideas and quotes from previous readings (include page numbers) as you make these connections.


!!!Note!!! You may not continue making connections to the same quotes used in previous SSRs throughout the course of the semester.  You are expected to make (new) connections between as many prior readings as you can.  A synthesis report that references 5-6 readings will earn a higher mark than one that only references 3, even if they are of equal length or if the one that references only 3 readings is much longer.


!!!Note!!! Do not make your own argument/s or provide your own examples here.  The goal of the SSR is to demonstrate how you put into dialogue or conversation points made by the readings/authors we are engaging with.  Think of this as a conversation between the authors we are reading. If you bring up your own examples or arguments here, it will not count toward your overall word count.  Your response must conclude with a series of questions (2-3) that get to the implications or further applications of the ideas contained in your response.  Please do not include here definitional questions: “What does _____ mean by _____?”  [This is the kind of question that should frame your response as a whole.]  Focus on what you understand about or take from the readings and draw implications from there.


Finally, make sure that you proofread your responses.  This means attending carefully to the names of authors, titles of readings, page numbers and correct citation methods.  In terms of formatting the reports, put ONLY your name, the title of the course, and date on the left side of the page.  Titles of responses should be centered and refer the particular SSR you are composing (SSR #1.)  Use the headings “summary,” “synthesis” and “questions” to structure your response to avoid wasting space on needless anecdotal introductions.  Don’t forget to include a word count.  Again, single-space these texts.     Please bring a hard copy of each response to class, which will be switched with, and commented on by, other members of the class. If you do not have your hard copy, your SSR will be marked as late. If your work is not properly formatted, well-written, proofread or stapled, it will be marked down at least one letter grade. 



Assignment 3- Exploring Spaces and Sounds, Group Project

You will work in groups and choose five locations throughout the city/county/state and record the sounds they hear. These locations could be restaurants, campus buildings, city hall, public libraries, or parks. You will then compose a podcast that weaves in the sounds they recorded with their own comments into an engaging concept or theme. Students will be required to engage course readings while providing their own insights and opinions about the sounds they experience. This recording must be at least 10 minutes long. 

Check Points

  1. Propose topic and receive acceptance
  2. Gather Sources and Complete Research
  3. Complete script
  4. Complete Recording
  5. Complete Editing


Course Blog


For this course, you will create and maintain a blog where you will post your writing assignments. We will also use the blogs as a place to post materials for our in-class workshops. Like most blogs, your blog should be well organized and present a theme. You should not post anything you would not want a future employer or your parents to see. This blog should be suitable for public viewing at all times. This means that you should avoid profanity or any other inappropriate material.



Discussion Leaders


Each group will rotate leading discussion on the reading assignments. These discussions will comprise a large part of your class participation points. If your group fails to be prepared to lead a discussion, all group members will have their final grade lowered one full letter grade. The procedure for leading class discussion will include:

  1. Emphasize key points from the readings
  2. Provide 3-4 examples from current events, pop culture, etc. that relate to the readings in a meaningful way. Consider this as a more advanced version of the classic show-and-tell presentation. The examples should help explain or demonstrate the material.
  3. Provide 3 discussion questions for the class to work through. Your questions should be thought provoking and engaging.
  4. Coordinate with your group members in advance of your presentation.