Voice Autobiography

This assignment, due mid-semester, requires you to script and record an autobiography of your own voice. As a sort of “pre-writing” exercise, I’d encourage you to record yourself reading a favorite passage (from any text you wish) and listen closely and repeatedly to that passage. What do you notice about your voice—its grain, tone, pitch, etc.? Do any of your vocal qualities resonate with what we’ve been reading in the course about the relationships among voice and race, class, gender, sexuality, culture, or geography?

Once you figure out a direction or focus for your voice autobiography, write a script that considers what your voice communicates about your life, your embodied identity. Then record your script in the digital audio editor of your choice. The final product should be a 5-6 minute audio recording that will be played for the class. I’m only requiring a simple audio narrative (a recording of the script you wrote), though of course I welcome more ambitious, experimental work with regard to the format or sound design. You may use any digital audio editor you wish. For those of you who are new to audio editing, I will provide you with detailed instructions about Audacity, a free digital audio editing platform.

We will be workshopping drafts of your voice autobiographies, so you will have the opportunity to get feedback from the seminar participants about how to expand on or improve your final recording.

In addition to your 5-6 minute audio file, please write a critical reflection (minimum 500 words to 1000 words) in which you address how our course readings and seminar discussions have informed your voice autobiography, as well as the way you think about your own voice in general. You may also want to elaborate on the compositional or rhetorical choices you made when creating your digital audio piece (e.g. Why is it structured the way that it is? What does the music or sound design—if relevant—add to the narrative?)

By the start of class on March 1, please email me your final voice autobiography audio file [in either .wav or .mp3 format] and your written reflection.

[Note: This project is an adaptation of an assignment from sound studies scholar Dr. Jennifer Stoever, which she graciously shared with me. I want to acknowledge that “voice autobiography” is her pedagogical concept.]