In 1935 Walter Benjamin wrote, “Around 1900 technical reproduction had reached a standard that not only permitted it to reproduce all transmitted works of art and thus to cause the most profound change in their impact upon the public; it also had captured a place of its own among the artistic processes.” This assignment musses with his assertion by creating a digital, “academic,” work of art. It asks students to produce an audio recording of his article “The Work of Art in the Age of mechanical Reproduction”.
The lesson offers students an opportunity to learn how to record and edit audio while engaging in acts of remediation and archiving. Students split into groups and are responsible for recording and editing articles and academic works in creative commons. Walter Benjamin’s Article The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction is used as an example, but other works may apply.
The pedagogical intent of this lesson is to give students experience with digital publication. Students are rewarded with a digital publication. Academia receives a remediated piece of scholarship.
Group Assignment Length
The Libravox App, Audacity Audio Recording Software, Microphone, Benjamin Article
Audio Recording and Editing Proficiency
Access and Adaptability
This assignment teaches students how to produce an audio recording of a traditional scholarly article, which is usually read. It therefore acts as a means to create greater accessibility. Unsighted students will have an audio recording of Benjamin’s article after completion. Students can translate the audio into international sign language, and then upload the video to YouTube rather than Librvox.
The deliverable is an audio (or video, if appropriate) recording of the article. Faculty can request a workshop for the Audacity recording software from the DWRL, and can check out microphones, Zoom recording equipment, etc. from the lab.
Students are instructed to record an audio version of “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”. They will learn how to record audio, edit it, and splice it together into a full recording of the article. After the recording is fully produced, the class as a whole will submit the recording to Libravox to be reviewed for publication. Other publication venues include YouTube.
Students are placed into groups for the assignment. There are 15 sections of the article. 5 groups of students (the group size varies for individual classes) can each be responsible for 3 sections. Students delegate who among the group performs the speaking roll, who records, who edits, etc. The point will be to create a professional sounding recording of the sections. After each group has recorded their sections, the class can splice together the recordings into a single production. This the class can submit to Libravox for publication, or can self-publish to YouTube.
In-Class or Assignment Instructions
The DWRL on campus offers two resources useful for this assignment.
First, the DWRL has recording equipment that can be borrowed. From microphones to Zoom recording devices, students are covered with regard to technology needed for this assignment.
Second, the DWRL teaches the Audacity recording software. By scheduling a workshop with the DWRL, students will learn how to record and edit audio and deliver professional products. Below is a YouTube video by YouTuber Raghvendra that shows the sort of self-efficacy that a DWRL workshop can provide.