[SoundStudies] TODAY, 4:30pm - Richard Prum

Joseph Clarke joseph.clarke at yale.edu
Wed Oct 9 14:37:42 EDT 2013

This is a reminder that Yale's* Sound Studies Colloquium* continues this
afternoon with *Richard Prum*, William Robertson Coe Professor of
Ornithology and Head Curator of Vertebrate Zoology at the Peabody Museum of
Natural History. We meet in the *Whitney Humanities Center, room B04 *at *
4:30pm* to hear Prof. Prum's talk:

*Bird Song and Aesthetics*
Bird songs form a diverse component of the sound-scape of most biological
communities on the planet, and humans greatly admire this diversity.
However, this diversity of song has evolved largely because bird songs are
attractive to the birds themselves. Darwin originally proposed an aesthetic
theory—sexual selection by mate choice—to explain the evolution of bird
song and other ornamental traits. Darwin's aesthetic view has been
abandoned in favor of an adaptive model in which all ornaments are
indicators of mate quality. In my research, I have described previously
unknown bird songs, investigated the anatomy of the unique vocal organ of
birds—the syrinx—and studied the physical mechanisms and evolution of
non-vocal "feather songs." In the talk, I will present diverse examples of
bird songs and discuss avian acoustic culture through song learning.
Lastly, I will introduce an aesthetic philosophy that attempts to unify the
study of aesthetics across human and animals (from Mockingbirds to Mozart,
Warblers to Warhol, and Dunnocks to Duchamp). The goal is a non-reductive,
'post-human' analytical framework for aesthetics that will expand our
understanding of what makes human aesthetic phenomema so extraordinary.
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