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Course Syllabus

Course: THEA 1113

Division: Fine Arts, Comm, and New Media
Department: Theater Arts
Title: Voice and Diction

Semester Approved: Spring 2021
Five-Year Review Semester: Fall 2025
End Semester: Fall 2026

Catalog Description: This course is a multi-faceted approach to healthy vocal production, diction, and accent. It provides students with both the theory and practice of excellent speech function and expressive communication. Theory and practice in developing command of oral techniques for stage include breath support, resonation, free vocal release, and articulation. This course focuses on vocal production for the actor, which differs from that of a singer.

Semesters Offered: Spring
Credit/Time Requirement: Credit: 3; Lecture: 3; Lab: 0

Prerequisites: None

Corequisites: None

Justification: This course is offered by most theatre departments throughout the state as a lower-division credit. It serves as an elective credit for graduation.

General Education Outcomes:
1: A student who completes the GE curriculum has a fundamental knowledge of human cultures and the natural world. Effective speech is one of the clearest goals of this course. Students will also be expected to look beyond the technical aspects of elocution to a connection of intention and intuition with the way they express themselves. Additionally, students will work in groups giving each other constructive critique and feedback, a process that must always retain respect and consideration at its crux. This will be assessed through group evaluations, presentations, and oral assignments.

Student Learning Outcomes:
Students will understand the functions, anatomy, and possibility of expressions of the human vocal tract (its actuator, vibrator, resonators, and articulators) theoretically and then practically. Student will demonstrate their understanding and abilities through in class vocal exercises (oral presentations), quizzes, and performances.

Students will explore methods of communication and articulation possible with their vocal tract. Students will read and respond to a text that covers both the technical, physical and psychological aspects of vocal production. They will be challenged to integrate written information into daily practice and habit. Additionally, students will learn a phonetic alphabet comprised of phonetic symbols. They will be expected to attain a degree of fluency in relating those symbols to their idiolects and performed dialects. They will demonstrate their abilities with written assignments, oral/written critiques. All the while sharing records of their own experiences in seeking to understand their own habits and challenges relating to successful speech.

Students will gain a command of their own instrument's flexibility, expressivity, and uniqueness. Despite the increased prevalence of the digital world, good verbal communication remains critical to success in social and professional life for almost all people. Truly understanding the mechanisms and patterns of speech, as well as accurately assessing one’s own habits and received pronunciation allows for the possibility of greater clarity, persuasion and expressive power in oral communication. Students will be challenged to integrate new technical and intellectual awareness into their daily habits of speech. Students will demonstrate their understanding through written assignments, quizzes, and oral presentations.

Student will grow more comfortable and sure with their voice and its use. Students will demonstrate this affective outcome through an introductory assignment regarding their relationship to their voice (Such as Rodenburg's 'A Poem to My Voice'), and reflective assignment tasking them to re-evaluate that connection. To foster comfort and surety the class takes a description rather than prescriptive stance on vocal production and clarity of speech.

Students will learn basics of vocal anatomy with particular attention to the structures of breath, resonance, and articulation. Habits of posture, breath, and vocal production will be assessed and areas for improvement identified. Students will gain introductory knowledge of the international phonetic alphabet and will explore the need for clarity through articulation. Students will practice and perform the written word with attention to the variables of expression. This will be assessed through in class exercises, group assessment, and assignments both verbal and written.Methods and techniques which might be used include: Linklater, Fitzmaurice, Rodenburg, and Knight-ThompsonDiversity and Inclusion: This course will approach vocal habits and speech production from a descriptivist perspective, rather than that of prescription or problematic 'correct' ways of speaking. Fundamental to the content of the course is a focus on accessing a healthy and flexible natural voice, shedding the one's habitual vocal constraints from social conformity and pressures. Similarly, this course approaches speech with the standards of clarity and expression. Rather than restrict and limit a student into a traditionally dominant prescription such as Standard American Speech, and thereby stripping individuality, background, and other personal /cultural influences, this course explores such systems as options rather than rules.

Key Performance Indicators:
Oral Evaluations 25 to 35%

Quizzes/Exams  25 to 30%

Written Assignments  20 to 30%

Class Participation  10 to 25%

Representative Text and/or Supplies:
Freeing the Natural Voice, by K. Linklater; current edition

Alfred's IPA Made Easy: Guidebook for the International Phonetic Alphabet, Anna Wentlent; current edition

Other texts at the instructor's discretion.

Pedagogy Statement:
This course is taught through vocal exercises and explorations. With the instructor acting as guide, students are introduced to the anatomical or theoretical underpinning of vocal production, led through exercises which encourage curiosity and discovery, followed by reflection and reinforcement. “You have to learn to work and search, not expect instantly to find,” Patsy Rodenburg's quote on this philosophy is a guiding principle of the course.Diversity and Inclusion:By not enforcing or encouraging one particular way to speak (most of which have associations with racism, classism, and colonialism), students are free to find their own personal effective method. This class and its instructor acknowledges the many unique and interesting ways of speaking, and actively dispels impressions that some sounds and accents are wrong, bad, or carry negative connotation. Instead open discourse and investigation is encouraged to confront systemic and structural prejudices inherent in how we relate to voice and speech.

Instructional Mediums:

Maximum Class Size: 30
Optimum Class Size: 20