Berkeley Talk – Sound and Perception

Ordered Universe team members Giles Gasper and Joshua Harvey delivered a talk at University of California, Berkeley, on Wednesday this week (16th Jan). Organised by Dr Henrike Lange of the Departments of Art History and Italian at Berkeley, the talk focused on Robert Grosseteste’s treatise On the Generation of Sounds. An excellent example of the way in which the project used interpretative tools from a wide range of disciplines to analyse the implications of this short but beguilingly complex treatise. Grosseteste explored the notion of sound, and then used human vocal production as a case study, relating the shape of the vocal tract to the shape of the letters that represent vowels.  Giles outlined the historical aspects, the dating of the treatise, the range of sources Grosseteste used, and the scope and interest of the treatise – where it fits, or doesn’t, with Grosseteste’s contemporaries, and it’s interest for modern scholars. Josh took on the wider implications of the central part of the treatise, and questions around how human perception of sound works, moving from Grosseteste’s thinking to modern understanding of the subject. A great question session followed the presentation (which will be available online shortly), raising questions from Old Norse literature, medieval music, methodological issues and translation, cognitive linguistic.

Just for information! On the Generation of Sounds forms part of the first volume from Ordered Universe with Oxford University Press, Knowing and Speaking, to be published in November 2019.

From Berkeley, we moved to the Napa Lighted Art Festival – and our symposium series, curated talks, demonstrations and projection art – on which more soon!

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