Hip hop to headline at Year of Sound
Programming to explore sound on an intellectual level
August 21, 2013, 1:03 pm · Updated August 21, 2013, 3:22 pm·
Carolyn Lim | DP
After pondering the truth with last year’s Year of Proof, this year’s new freshman class will be using their ears in the Year of Sound.
For the Class of 2017, the Year of Sound begins with one particular aspect, hip hop. The new class read Adam Bradley’s “Book of Rhymes: The Poetics of Hip Hop” for the Penn Reading Project, examining hip hop as both a musical form and a poetic form.
The year’s theme should be broad enough so it doesn’t belong to one particular discipline or school, Director of New Student Orientation and Academic Initiatives David Fox said. As with previous themes like water and games, sound is part of the human experience.
“It touches on music [and] poetry. It’s urban culture and urban life. It’s politics and social culture,” Fox added.
The theme of sound is “intended to be universal,” College junior and NSO Coordinator Katherine Boas added.
The University first started off these theme years with the Year of Food in 2007 . Since then, each year has had a different theme that unites faculty and students at Penn to actively engage them in a common intellectual experience.
This year’s steering committee decided on a book that focused on hip hop because it provides an exploration of a subject that many are not familiar with on an intellectual level, Delphine Dahan, a member of the theme year’s steering committee and associate professor of psychology said.
Dahan added that this book “unpacks what’s interesting and worth studying and recognizing.”
Aside from the reading project, there are many events encompassing the theme of sound. Throughout the year, Penn will host various symposia, performances and conferences to explore sound in artistic, cultural and scientific ways.
In addition to the events, the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology has opened an exhibition called Hollywood in the Amazon that focuses on sound. The exhibit opened on Aug. 18 and will remain open until July of next year.
The exhibition highlights the world’s first sound-synced expeditionary film that, according to the website, was shot during a Penn Museum expedition to a “remote Amazonian jungle” in 1931.
Rob Nelson, executive director for Education and Academic Planning in the Provost’s Office, explained that the museum was “galvanized by the idea of a yearly theme.” The result is this exhibition, which is an intersection between the theme of sound and what the museum finds meaningful.
Students will also get a chance to take courses dedicated to this year’s theme, which include “Music and the Brain” and “Auditory Cultures.”
Dahan hopes the new students will take something away from the theme year, “We hope that intellectually, you will have been provoked. You will have wanted to push your limits. You will have found some growth.”