Engaging Humanities

“Engaging Humanities is a comprehensive program for incoming UCSB first year and transfer students to grow as thinkersdevelop skills that will contribute to success in college and in desirable careers, and build on their desires to make a difference in the world. Engaging Humanities is supported by a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. “


Through the Engaging Humanities program I was provided with an opportunity to take part in their interdisciplinary course “Phonetics and Aesthetics of Human Communication: Decoding Engagement in Transmission and Reception in Speech and Art” taught by Professors Kim Yasuda and Argyro Katsika during the Fall 2021 quarter.

Course Description: This course will explore practices of meaning-making and reception by looking at very different forms of communication: speech and art. Both are embodied, culture-bound activities of human communicative function. Humans learn and engage in speaking naturally as a developmental and integral part of everyday life. We all spend two to three hours a day exchanging short bursts of speech, often referred to as turn-taking, which roughly accumulates to 1200 turns daily. Like speech, art is a sensorial form of transmission, but does not necessarily prioritize communication and comprehension of a specific and concrete message. Thus, art is unconventional communication, leaving an open window for interpretation. Our aim is to decode the process of self-incorporation in the speech and art event, and to study how and to what degree one becomes or can become a dynamic agent in that event. Through the analysis of the structural vocabulary in each of these “transmission systems”, students will have the opportunity to test physical and cognitive “turn-taking methods”, negotiating between flow and breakdown in communication across speech and art that reveal the complexity of human communicative processes. The ultimate goal of the class is for students from different disciplines to work together to explore and shape “toolsets” and “grammars” that decode different forms of engagement and reception.