English Question


Prompt for Paper 2

For your second paper assignment, I would like you to write a thesis-driven essay that responds to one of the four episodes from Damon Krukowski’s podcast Ways of Hearing. Please use the material we’ve gone over in class to form your thesis statement. Additionally, please use at least two relevant quotations from the podcast in your paper.

To do this, choose one of the four prompts below.

  1. Episode 2 “Space”: In episode 2, Krukowski explores the ways sound, music, and noise define the space of New York City. He primarily discusses the ways that privatizing our listening experiences, through concert halls and earbuds, limits our collective participation in city life. Write a paper that identifies, analyzes, and responds to Damon Krukowski’s position about this topic. Do personal listening devices take away from our experiences of the vibrancy of the city or do they help us create a mental refuge from the chaos of busy city life? Do they render us oblivious to things going on around us or do they enhance our encounters with the places we move through?
  1. Episode 3 “Love”: In this episode, Krukowski discusses the ways digital sound limits the level of intimacy we experience when we communicate with our loved ones. One way he does this, for example, is through his comparison of the landline telephone and the cellphone, where he shows how cellphones remove much of the richness of the human voice in exchange for affording us the possibility to communicate with anyone, anywhere. What he wants to show us are the ways digital technology extends our range while at the same time reducing the quality of our experience. Write a paper that identifies, analyzes, and responds to Krukowski’s argument in this episode. Does digital technology limit or enhance our connections with each other? Is the tradeoff–availability and access for poorer quality sound–worth it? Why or why not?
  1. Episode 4 “Money”: In this episode, Krukowski discusses the role money plays in the distribution of music. Throughout the episode he discusses a paradox that the availability of digital music reveals: digitizing music has enabled it to travel much more easily around the world and to be used in many more contexts than it might have been originally intended; however, this availability has come through limiting the ways musicians can make money off of the recordings they create. One major question Krukowski tackles within this general topic is the degree to which charging money for music impedes or assists in the formation of communities around this music? On the one hand, loosening the requirements for people to pay for music enables its wide distribution, therefore allowing more communities of fans to form. On the other, restricting ways musicians can make money from the records they produce makes it harder for them to make a living making music. Write a paper where you identify and analyze the aspects of this issue Krukowski discusses and respond with your own take.
  1. Episode 5 “Power”: This episode explores how we are exposed to new material. Krukowski is focused on how we encounter new music, but his comments could apply across the board to how we come to know all manner of new cultural artifacts, for instance, books and movies. In his analysis, Krukowski introduces a distinction between “surprise” and “discovery.” Here, “surprise is when you come across something you had no idea you would like and “discovery” is when an algorithm introduces something to you that aligns with things you have previously “liked.” For Krukowski, the discovery function of most services, from Pandora and Spotify to Amazon, limits the kinds of material we will encounter and robs us of finding out the quirky things about ourselves. Write a paper in which you identify, analyze, and respond to Krukowski’s opinion about this issue.

Learning Goals:

  • To practice writing an argumentative essay
  • To practice using someone else’s perspective to articulate your own
  • To explore a topic of interest to you
  • To practice incorporating evidence and quotations in your writing

Preliminary assignments and activities:

As you think about your paper, we will be holding in-class discussions about the Ways of Hearing podcast. You will also complete in-class worksheets and blog posts about each episode. This material will be part of your participation and blog post grades, but you should also think about it as a resource to use as you put your paper together.


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  • 12-point, Times New Roman font
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