Sonic universes (Master in Film and Screen Studies)

Presentation Objectives Methodology Contents Evaluation Bibliography Back to the Master
Program details
Subject: Sonic universes
Course: First
Semester: 2
Modality: Optional
Professor: Alex Arteaga


This course proposes to approach critically, both aesthetically and conceptually, certain films and the general production of specific authors, as aural environments. This means, basically, to condition the experience of the films studied mainly through listening and listening practices in order, firstly, to identify their structure as environments, i.e. as enveloping presences endowed with meaning and, secondly, to determine which compositional decisions have contributed to this structure. Additionally, the selected films will be investigated as perceptual devices. Using this term as a heuristic strategy, the organisation of auditory and visual material will be analysed in relation to their agency in arranging auditory and visual perception.


Firstly, this course aims to develop approaches, practices and methodologies for understanding the aural aspect of certain films and the “sonic universes” of certain authors, i.e. the specific ways of conceiving and organising aural environments in an audiovisual context. On this basis, this course aims to develop capacities to identify the specific contribution of aurality in and through filmic processes of meaning generation.


The way of proceeding will be empirical and cumulative: through collective processes of analysis of specific pieces, the group will identify, compile and optimise critical auditory practices that will enable the exhaustive description of specific auditory environments and their role in the generation and transformation of meanings.


  • Session 1: Presentation of the course.
    • Clarification of fundamental concepts and working methodology.
  • Sessions 2-18: Collective research of selected films (provisional selection to be discussed with students):
    • 11’09″01 September 11
    • Andrei Tarkovsky
    • Michael Haneke
    • James Benning
    • Stanley Kubrick
    • Instalación audiovisual seleccionada 1 (en exhibición)
    • Instalación audiovisual seleccionada 2 (en exhibición)
    • The Killing of Two Lovers
    • Under My Skin
    • My Mexican Bretzel
    • Wong Kar-Wai
    • Angela Schanelec
    • Abbas Kiarostami
    • Víctor Erice
    • Aki Kaurismäki
    • Alejandro González Iñárritu
    • Werner Herzog
  • Sessions 20-25: Presentations by students of films or audiovisual productions selected by them.


Active participation of each student is required. Each student will be required to make a formal presentation of his/her analysis of the auditory environment of each film in a 2-hour session structured and guided by him/herself. In addition, each student will be required to produce a comprehensive written description of the auditory environment of a film. On this basis, each student’s grade will consist of an assessment of his/her participation (20%), an assessment of his/her presentation (50%) and an assessment of his/her written description (30%).


Agamben, Giorgio, What is an Apparatus and other Essays, Palo Alto CA, Stanford University Press, 2009

Arteaga, Alex, Aurality and Environment, Madrid, Ministerio de Cultura, 2017

Bull, Michael and Cobussen, Marcel, The Bloomsbury Handbook of Sonic Methodologies, London, Bloomsbury, 2020

Ihde, Don, Listening and Voice: Phenomenologies of Sound, New York NY, State University of New York Press, 2007

LaBelle, Brandon, Sonic Agency: Sound and Emergent Forms of Resistance, London, Goldsmiths Press, 2020

LaBelle, Brandon, Acoustic Territories: Sound Culture and Everyday Life, London, Bloomsbury, 2010

Nancy, Jean-Luc, Listening, Fordham University Press, 2007

Sterne, Jonathan, The Sound Studies Reader, London, Routledge, 2012

Voegelin, Salomé, Sonic Possible Worlds, London, Bloomsbury, 2021

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