CCCC Sonic Pedagogies Workshop--Still Room!

If you will be attending the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) in Indianapolis in March, please consider signing up for our Sonic Pedagogies Workshop

In this workshop we will be exploring and experimenting with assignments and approaches to teaching sound in the composition classroom. We will engage participants in a range of sonic activities, both practical and conceptual, taking up concerns such as the ubiquity of digital technologies and our listening habits, the cultivation of new relationships to listening, and the practices of using digital technology to help shape and respond to the sonic environment. If you are interested in learning about creative, fun, and dynamic ways to use sound and listening exercises in your classroom, this is the workshop for you!

No experience with sonic composing is necessary to participate—all are welcome. If possible, participants should bring their personal laptops and be prepared to do some walking in and around the conference center to conduct field recordings. If bringing a laptop isn’t possible, smartphones and/or tablets will also be useful for recording. Feel free to contact Steph Ceraso ( in advance with any questions or concerns so that we can do everything possible to maximize hands-on participation.


Here is the full agenda and session descriptions: 


Sonic Pedagogies for the Composition Classroom


This year’s convention asks us to consider the possible futures of our work and to identify ways to address our ever-shifting institutional and cultural environments. Following Sterne’s work (and many others), scholarship in sound studies has begun to recast contemporary attention on the ways we know our composing spaces, products, and practices. It’s been two decades now since David Bolter announced “the late age of print,” and in the intervening years we’ve had signpost calls for multiliteracies (New London Group) and for expanding our sense of composing (Yancey). By bringing to light theories and practices of sonic experience, this workshop will model such expansive approaches. We will engage participants in a range of sonic activities, both practical and conceptual, taking up concerns like the ubiquity of digital technologies and our listening habits, ways to cultivate new relationships to listening, and practices in using digital technology to help shape and respond to the sonic environment. Part I of this workshop will explore assignments and approaches to teaching sound in the composition classroom. Participants will gain hands-on experience with sonic composing practices and explore strategies for implementing successful sound-based assignments. Part II introduces soundscaping. Participants will conduct field recordings around the conference center and contribute to social sound mapping, taking up discussions of crowdsourcing. The goal of this workshop is to generate ideas for assignments to help participants (and our field) become better attuned consumers and producers of sonic experiences.



Each session will include a 15 minute overview, a 30 minute hands-on activity, and a 15 minute discussion.


Sonic Bridges to Educational Engagement

Strict boundaries between our courses and the interests of students outside of the classroom can limit engagement. Instead, instructors can tap into the sonic lives of students, integrating audio from films, television, and music into assignments. Resistances to these approaches include the popular nature of many sonic materials in light of composition instruction seeking to introduce students to academic genres; the multimodal nature of audio resources amid institutional cultures still rooted in print; and the expense and learning curves of the tools and methodologies for composing with sound. In response to these concerns, instructors can deploy assignments promoting hybrid popular/academic genres (e.g., playlists) and use strategies of repurposing materials (remix). This segment of the workshop will detail several of these “low bridge” assignments, offering practical routes for using sound to trouble inside/outside classroom dynamics and promote engagement.


Sonic Remediations of the News

This session will offer a model for bringing together the theoretical, performative, and practical aspects of sound as a way of teaching and applying rhetorical principles. The session emphasizes the ways that mediation (sonic or otherwise) is reflective of the rhetorical situation and should modulate respondent to kairos, exigency, and audience. This session is designed to teach how these three rhetorical elements can guide the genre of media produced. Using a report of a current news event as a starting point, students transform the information presented into a sonic artifact, and act as respondents to an alternative audience and rhetorical situation. For the workshop, participants will focus on sonic artifacts only, but will also imagine shifts across a variety of types of media in order to highlight the affordances of particular mediated styles and genres and to encourage student-rhetoricians towards innovative and kairotic arguments not possible in traditional written responses.


Sound Design as Composition

Many approaches teach students to treat sonic composition as an audible form of alphabetic writing. While making connections between sound and writing is important, such approaches ignore sound as part of a larger ecology; that is, they do not address the fact that sound shapes and is shaped by other sensory modes, materials, and contexts. This session introduces participants to a sonic composing assignment that requires authors to integrate sound with visual and tactile features to create a situation-specific multimodal experience. Participants will be invited to collaboratively design a prototype of a sonic consumer product or a product in which sound plays a salient role (a toy, a video game, a washing machine, etc.). Each group will spend time considering how their sonic creation will affect the product’s function, purpose, target audience, and overall aesthetic design.This assignment challenges participants to listen with their ears, eyes, and hands, and offers a model for thinking through the role of sound in the production of holistic, multisensory experiences.




Social Sonic Mapping and Rhetorical Design

Although previous work in soundscapes has focused on preserving existing sounds or negotiating individuals’ sonic agency, this session presents soundscaping as more collaborative and accessible. First, participants will explore a soundscaping assignment, where students chose spaces to design nonverbal soundscapes that praised, critiqued, or made present existing spatial practices. We will then practice listening to examples of those soundscapes in order to identify compositional practices in soundscaping. Next, participants will discuss the different opportunities afforded by the social mapping of sounds, through a project called, Soundcities, an open source, collaborative effort that allows people from all over the world to upload recorded sounds to a database. They then use the Soundcities website to “map” the sounds. Participants will discuss how this project fits into the larger context of crowdsourcing and mobile communication.

After this overview, participants will work with the field recordings captured during the lunch break. Participants will discuss and upload recordings to Soundcities in a hands-on introduction to collaborative, social soundscaping, and will then work to create a new soundscape for our workshop space by arranging and editing sounds from their field recordings in Audacity to explore rhetorical concepts of soundscape design.


Student Soundscape Design (15 min)

Social Sound Mapping and Crowdsourcing (20 min)

Uploading Sounds to Soundcities (30 min)

Sharing and Uploading (15 min)

Rhetorical Soundscape Designs for CCCC

-Creating drafts of soundscapes in map form (15 min)

-Arranging and editing soundscapes in Audacity (30 min)

Sharing Soundscapes (15 min)

Discussion: Student Soundscaping (10 min)




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