Film & Media Studies 334 - Listening to Podcasts

Listening to Podcasts

Christopher Grobe

M/W | 2:30 PM - 3:50 PM

Amherst College

(Offered as ENGL 260 and FAMS 334) The word “podcast” was coined in 2004 as a portmanteau of “broadcast” and “iPod.” As the name implies, podcasts were born when an old mode of audio transmission (radio broadcast) met a new technology (portable mp3 players like Apple’s iPod, or rather RSS feeds adapted to handle audio files). But even back then, “podcasts” were more than just time-delayed radio programs you could carry around in your pocket. They also included a wide range of born-podcast formats: free-flowing talk shows, scripted audio-essays, anthologies of audio-journalism, etc. In this course, we will study the historical origins and contemporary range of podcasts as a medium for writing and performance. We will consider how this medium has absorbed genres from other media (memoir, essay, drama, documentary, fiction, etc.) and combined them in innovative ways. We will also explore genres made possible for the first time by podcasts—whether by their ability for on-demand playback, by their low cost of distribution, or by their openness to audio-experimentation. 

The primary skills taught by this course are careful listening and analytic writing. This is not a course in podcast production. It will, however, require students to analyze podcasts by “quoting” them in audio-essays of their own devising. As such, this course will teach some basic script-writing and audio-editing skills.

Limited to 30 students. Fall semester. Professor Grobe.

How to handle overenrollment: Preference will be given to English majors

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: Aural analysis, the creation of audio-essays, written work, readings, group work, and oral presentations

Permission is required for interchange registration during the add/drop period only.