Course Memo

Sound is an integral, and yet often under-investigated component of virtually all religious traditions. In the Hebrew Bible, the world is created through an act of divine speech; in the Upanishads, the universe itself is a manifestation of sacred sound. Beginning with a consideration of the human voice as the most primary of instruments, this course approaches a diverse array of religious and spiritual practices through an investigation of their relationship with sound and music. Through weekly discussions of audio/video recordings, other primary source material, and secondary texts, students will consider a range of traditional and contemporary sacred musics with attention to their cultural and epistemological contexts, as well as issues of commodification and colonization. By developing a regular listening practice, students are encouraged to contemplate the role of embodiment in the encounter of divine presence. Recommended for graduate students, musicians, music lovers, writers, ministers, healers, and other spiritual practitioners. This course is taught by PhD student Emily Pothast with a Newhall Award, under the supervision of Kathryn Barush.