Courses

For the college’s course catalog, please visit the Courses section. For courses currently offered, please visit the Schedule of Classes.

Public Address (COMM-101)
This course is designed to help students develop skills for effective oral communication. At a minimum, students will emerge more confident on the public platform. When refined by practice and experience, the critical thinking, composition, and performance skills learned should prove most useful in personal and professional endeavors.
Introduction to Writing for Print and Online (COMM-108)
This course focuses on the fundamentals of reporting and writing nonfiction for print. Topics include storytelling and narrative, lead writing, point of view, information gathering, interviewing, and more. The class aims to help students develop overall research, writing, and thinking skills; questioning, listening, and interviewing skills; and a more sophisticated understanding of print journalism. (Offered fall only)
Ethics and Society (COMM-111)
This course explores communication ethics from philosophical and applied perspectives in a variety of social contexts. Weekly theoretical discussions are grounded in applied cases that revolve around issues such as whistleblowing, free speech, group think, lying, confidentiality, privacy, coercion, and consensus.
Special Topics in Communication (COMM-115)
Special Topics in Communication provides a venue in which to explore in some depth an aspect or issue related to communication study. May be taken more than once by majors or non-majors to address special topics.
Argumentation (COMM-122)
In this course students will explore the art of inquiry and advocacy known as argumentation. In order to become better audiences and practitioners of argument, students will consider the nature of argument, the building blocks of argument and the practice of argument in public debate.
Media Structures (COMM-126)
This course is designed to initiate students into critical and intelligent debates surrounding the issue of communication and its pertinence to mass, modern and postmodern societies. We consider specifically how mass communication has been defined from the 19th through to the beginning of the 21st Century and how this history is relevant to issues of mass society today. Given that almost every person in America is affected by mass culture and media, we will discuss through the lectures, discussions and exercises a number of controversial suggestions, critical paradigms and mainstream assumptions. Throughout the course, students will be expected to understand these approaches and be able to both criticize and recognize the legitimacy of these models.
Freedom of Speech (COMM-130)
Freedom of Speech introduces students to the dimensions of oral discourse both as practiced in a community of citizens and theoretically viewed through various legal interpretations. We will examine how the first amendment rights have been defended and impinged within academic settings, throughout historical periods of political unrest and war, and in daily exchanges marked by hate, defamation and obscenity.
The Politics of Popular Culture (COMM-140)
The terrain of popular culture has historically been a site of contentious struggles and debates. For long (as is the case even today) one's cultural "taste" was a significant factor in determining one's standing in the social hierarchy. Debates about "high" vs "low" culture and about what cultural texts and practices must stand in to represent a community have involved some of the most well known intellectuals in history. Analyzing the trajectory of these debates over the years provides us with a lens through which to understand historical social changes. It also allows us to appreciate that several contemporary debates (for instance about the cultural meaning of Hip Hop or Reality TV) have historical precedents that inform and precede them. This introductory course seeks to trace those debates from their origins in middle century Europe to their culmination into contemporary battles over popular culture. In so doing it seeks to politicize popular culture and unravel the competing ideologies and worldviews embedded within it. We begin by reading some of the prominent theorists of "high" culture and then problematize their arguments by studying the challenges to them (most stridently posed by the Birmingham school of scholars). We will then use this historical debate to inform our understanding of the contemporary world of popular culture in America. In the process we will also learn various ways to analyze and critique objects of popular culture around us that we often unthinkingly consume.
Introduction to Media Literacy (COMM-147)
While most of us are proficient consumers of visual electronic media - we have the speed of symbol-recognition and comprehension skills to be adept "readers" - few of us have learned to bring to that reading the critical skills we learn in the study of literature, music or art. This course examines how sound and images construct the "realities" that media presumably represent.
Introductory Topics in Communication (COMM-199)
A general category used only in the evaluation of transfer credit.
Global Communication (COMM-205)
The purpose of the course is to acquire an understanding of the key concepts and ideas about globalization and the role the mass media plays in the process. While the term "globalization" has been bandied about among the popular press, academic and the business community, this course will attempt to contextualize and ground the concept by developing a multiperspectival approach to some of the political, economic and social processes that have been associated with the development of a world communication system. Throughout the course, we will examine the growing centrality that the mass media and information technologies play in our daily lives and the ways in which they contribute to or hinder our daily practices of identity, community and culture in a global context.
Thinking with Ethics (COMM-211)
This course will help students discover how to better recognize ethical questions when they stumble across them and to explore how, when we do, we lean into them rather than turn away. What makes it possible for us to think, listen and speak with ethics? We will explore a range of public and private ethical questions that arise in the everyday lives of college students such as, for example: privacy & free speech, conformity & dissent, accountability & care, trust & truthfulness, propaganda & censorship, power & privilege, whistleblowing & secrecy, and alterity & responsibility.
Communication Special Topics (COMM-215)
Special Topics in Communication provides a venue in which to explore in depth an aspect or issue related to communication study. May be taken more than once by majors or non-majors to address special topics.
Theories of Group Communication (COMM-221)
This course explores the communication processes in and around social, organizational and political groups. The dynamic nature of group formation, flexibility and sustainability will serve as the foundation of the course. Questions regarding the desire for belonging, how belonging gets enacted, and the tensions of group identification and membership will serve as the thread for exploring groups in a variety of contexts.
Rhetoric (COMM-223)
Rhetoric is the art of the spoken and written word, and its study and practice has been the foundation of a liberal education for two thousand years. It grounds the traditions and practices of politics, law, commerce and religion, and its power is felt in every sphere of public life. In this course we focus on the practice and theory of rhetoric as the medium of civic engagement, and the constituting act of self and community.
Theories of Interpersonal Communication (COMM-224)
This course provides students with an interpretive and critical perspective for investigating the process of our making social worlds. Students will analyze interactional patterns of communication in personal and cultural mythology, in family communication, and in college students' culture.
US Broadcast History and Theory (COMM-225)
This class explores the history of radio and television broadcasting in the U.S. since the 1910s, analyzing radio and television programs within their social and industrial contexts and considering the ways that these texts are understood by audiences. We will pay particular attention to the political, economic, and cultural roles of the media in twentieth-century U.S. history, drawing connections to radio and television's quickly changing present. We will also examine how history itself is researched and written, introducing you to theories and methods in historiography.
New Literacy Lab (COMM-227)
Digital technology is merging traditional communication modalities of voice, text, and image into ever new forms of representation and interaction, changing many aspects of our lives profoundly, not only in terms of personal and business relationships, consumer habits, work environments, and civic engagement, but even in the ways we understand ourselves, relate to each other, and form identities. Students will explore the creative potential of these communication forms in a lab practicum closely tied to the exploration of their existential impact in theory readings and class discussions.
Mediating Gender and Sexuality (COMM-229)
In this class we will examine and evaluate the cultural construction and representation of gender and sexuality in contemporary American mass media, and trace their development throughout the 20th century. We will focus on a variety of mass-produced commercial media texts, surveying television, magazines, advertising, and popular music. Although gender is the primary identity construction examined in this course, we will also pay close attention to other aspects of identity that define American women, such as ethnicity, class, and sexuality. We will investigate representational issues in relation to their political repercussions, and draw from a broad range of academic literature, including feminist television criticism, film theory, cultural studies, communication theory, and popular music criticism. Cross-listed with QS 229 and WMST 229.
Theories of Public and Private Performance (COMM-232)
How do we perform our identitites in everyday life? What role does everyday performativity play in constituting us as raced, gendered, and classed subjects? How do cultural performances (musical concerts, sporting events, or dance) help us better understand ourselves and our society? In this class we examine a range of theories that see private behaviors and public performances as rehearsed, audience-oriented, and creative acts. Theorists such as Erving Goffman, Judith Butler, Pierre Bourdieu, and Victor Turner will guide our examination of both "everyday" performativity (in regrd to bodily stigma and identities of class, race, gender, and sexuality) and cultural performances (such as musical concerts, sporting events, and dance). Students will learn how to analyze their own behavior as a cultural text and to discern the textual, acoustic, and embodied dimensions of cultural performances. They will practice illuminating how performances can reinforce or disrupt the social order, while creating the self in community.
Racialized Perspectives of Media (COMM-239)
This course critically examines the forms that racial and ethnic representations have taken in American media. The course will attempt to chart changes in public perception of racial and ethnic difference in the context of cultural and social transformations, as well as adjustments in the U.S. media industry. We will first establish a foundational knowledge of media criticism and explore theories and perspectives on how ethnicity is experienced in American culture. We will then focus on the topic of the representation of ethnicity in American media, surveying it historically, in relation to specific ethnic groups, at particular moments, and in a variety of genres.
Theories of Intercultural Communication (COMM-244)
This course examines the processes and politics of intercultural communication in both domestic and international contexts. Students will enhance their cross-cultural awareness by exploring differences in value orientations, thought patterns and (non)verbal behaviors, challenges of transition and adaptation across cultures, identity management in intercultural settings, intergroup relationship development and conflict resolution, and intercultural communication competence and ethics. Throughout the course, special considerations will be given to power and privilege issues in bridging differences and embracing diversity.
Communication and Technology (COMM-250)
This course is designed to examine the impact of the Internet and information technology on our daily lives. Advanced technology becomes a normal part of life and creates new contexts for communication. This class goes beyond technical and how-to-issues to investigate how new media affects our communication practices with others. Over the semester we will focus on issues relating to mediated communication and advanced communication technology. Particular topics discussed include media effects, relationships, identity, agency, distanciation and genesis. This course is designed for students who already have basic experience with computers and the Internet.
Visual Communication (COMM-255)
This course explores how we perceive and interpret the images and visual texts that we encounter. The course introduces perspectives from visual intelligence, media aesthetics, and visual rhetoric, while offering students opportunities to employ these perspectives in analyzing a range of visual mediums.
Theorizing Communication (COMM-280)
This course introduces students to selected theoretical perspectives and vocabularies for understanding human communication. This course is designed to both introduce and provide an overview of the discipline of communication studies. First-Year or sophomore standing or consent. Required of all majors and minors.
Research in Communication (COMM-290)
The purpose of this course is to expose students to major research methods used in the communication discipline. The course will sensitize students to issues in the field, familiarize students with types of research methods used in the discipline and enable students to formulate research questions, and design appropriate studies to answer those questions. In addition, the course will facilitate students' ability to understand the logic and process of research and to engage in critical analyses of reports and studies published in communication journals. First-year or sophomore standing or consent. Required of majors/minors.
Intermediate Topics in Communication (COMM-299)
A general category used only in the evaluation of transfer credit.
Comparative Media Systems (COMM-305)
This course examines media systems in developed and developing nations. It explores the ways in which various media systems have been shaped and influenced by the social, political and cultural systems in which they are located and, in turn, how the media shape and influence those systems. Investigating the different contexts that determine how a medium such as television, radio, or the internet is used in terms of who decides what is conveyed to the public, and with which rationale, students will examine the ways in which media outlets around the world have or have not served popular expression and democracy. Prerequisites: COMM 280 and COMM 290 or consent of instructor.
Organizational Culture (COMM-306)
This course is informed by the claim that communication is the means through which we construct, participate, and convey the cultures of which we are a part. The constitutive nature of communication is explored by investigating an existing organizational culture through an application of communication concepts and theories, cultural studies theories, and qualitative research methods. Prerequisites: COMM 280 and COMM 290 or consent of instructor.
Media Historiography (COMM-307)
Media Historiography introduces students to the processes of conducting historical research in communication and media studies. Using mediated communication from past eras, the course will provide students with the analytical tools necessary to situate literature, film, television, and popular music in their historical milieus. Students will be encouraged to see media forms from prior eras as sites where meaning is contested, not just simple reflections of a period's prevailing politics. In written work, students will practice the methodologies used by communication and media scholars to interrogate these sorts of questions: archival research, ethnography, and formal analysis. Through these written assignments, as well as readings, screenings, and class discussions, students will consider mediated communication as evidence of the dynamic, disputed political, economic, and cultural forces at work in prior eras.
Ethics and the Public Sphere (COMM-311)
This course explores the intersection between communication ethics and political communication in the context of democratic pluralism. After being introduced to the central themes, questions, and literatures of discourse ethics and dialogic philosophy, students then explore the relationships between response and responsibility, and ethics and politics, in deliberative public spheres. Prerequisites: COMM 280 and COMM 290 or consent of instructor.
Listening, Thinking, Being (COMM-313)
Although we know listening is central to communication, we rarely think about it. In this course we place listening at the center of communication and explore a range of sound environments and listening practices including auditory cultures, acoustic ecology, animal communication, film sound, music, human dialogue, and deaf cultures. Rather than focus on technical questions such as how to be a more effective listener the course asks the basic question of how we listen and explores the indissoluble relationships between listening, speaking, thinking, and being. Along the way, we will also consider the cultural, philosophical and ethical dimensions of listening. Prerequisites: COMM 280 and COMM 290 or consent of instructor.
Special Topics in Communication (COMM-315)
These classes focus intensively upon a particular aspect of communication. May be taken more than once for elective credit as an upper division course. Prerequisites: COMM 280 and COMM 290 or consent of instructor.
Language, Culture, and Communication (COMM-320)
This course is based on an understanding that culture is maintained through systems of meaning, and that communication is the sharing of meaning between people. This course explores the many ways in which language, culture, and communication interact with, influence, and manifest each other. It investigates the relationships between these three constructs using the tools of linguistic anthropology, semiotics, and cultural theory to gain a better and deeper understanding of the taken-for-granted aspects of our social worlds. During the semester, students will examine the cultural influences of language on communication, social functions of language, cultural signs and codes, spoken language, dialects, bilingualism, and multiculturalism. This course is designed to encourage students to synthesize core course concepts and apply them to everyday lives in critical and creative ways. Prerequisites: Communication major or minor; COMM 280 and COMM 290.
The Rhetoric of Citizenship (COMM-324)
This course explores the symbolic dimensions of the American public discourse about rights and citizenship. Students will undertake historical and rhetorical examinations of the key texts and issues that give these their tone and tenor. Prerequisites: COMM 280 and COMM 290 or consent of instructor.
Narrative Ethics (COMM-325)
This course will examine how narrative and storytelling shape meanings and perceived values for personhood. We will explore an array of philosophical perspectives such as those of Paul Ricoeur, Jerome Bruner, and Arthur Frank. Concurrently, we will examine storytelling in multiple contexts including children's books, court cases, health incidents, media anecdotes, and everyday conversations. Through investigating these various contexts, we will develop different approaches to defining and applying narrative communication. Specifically, we will practice reflexive methodology by cross-examining our personal lives in the context various ethical perspectives and dilemmas. In doing so, we will address questions such as: Are stories lived before or after they are told? What is the relationship between narrative and reality? What role does narrative serve in developing moral understandings and guiding ethical practices? These questions will be addressed during class discussions, as well as in written assignments entailing personal narratives, co-authored standpoints, and creative projects that respond to the ethical issues surfaced throughout the course. Prerequisites: COMM 280 and COMM 290 or consent of instructor.
Communication Law (COMM-328)
Communication Law examines the constitutional and statutory principles associated with the First Amendment issues of free speech and free press. The course examines legal decisions, governmental regulatory doctrines, and self-regulatory practices which inform First Amendment law. Particular topics discussed include censorship, obscenity and pornography, libel law, privacy, governmental secrecy, free press/fair trial, regulation of telecommunications, advertising and the Internet. Prerequisites: COMM 280 and COMM 290 or consent of instructor.
Gender and Communication (COMM-329)
This course focuses on (1) the role of interpersonal, social and political communication in the construction of gender expectations in American culture, and (2) how those expectations get communicated/performed, and thus reified, in our daily lives. We will explore the complex interplay between self expectations and social expectations of gender that get expressed, challenged, and ultimately influenced by and within a variety of social and interpersonal contexts: education, the body, organizations, friends and family, romantic relationships, the media, and politics. Cross-listed with WMST 329. Prerequisites: COMM 280 and COMM 290, or WMST major.
Digital Technology and Cultural Change (COMM-333)
The world of communication continues to change rapidly, and with it, the cultural landscape. New avenues of social connection, political action, and creative production are clashing with powerful financial, legal, and political forces, and the outcomes of these clashes are far from certain. This class explores the possibilities for cultural change that digital technology presents and the social and economic struggles over the future of our culture. Prerequisites: COMM 280 and COMM 290 or consent of instructor.
Exploring Rhetorical Texts (COMM-344)
This course examines the art of rhetorical criticism. In becoming a practicing rhetorical critic, students will learn to situate, interpret, and judge historical and contemporary public persuasive discourse. Topics include the nature of criticism and the role of the critic, the process of contextual reconstruction, key issues in textual reading, and methods of rhetorical analysis. Prerequisites: COMM 280 and COMM 290 or consent of instructor.
Cultural Globalization and Identity (COMM-345)
This course will critically engage with the phenomenon of the global circulation of culture. It will seek to understand the consequences of the process whereby texts, ideas and images that for long remained confined to their locations of origin are today increasingly mobile and de-territorialized. Objects of popular culture such as television, cinema and music, are circulating and being consumed around the world and are helping challenge the traditional markers of human identity such as nation, culture and language. While they are allowing individuals to imagine alternatives to existing realities they are also engendering a backlash against a perceived imposition of new ideas, values and culture. This course will seek to familiarize students with these ongoing changes and the conflicts over cultural and national identity that it has given rise to. We will begin with arguments that present a totalizing view of this process (the Cultural Imperialism thesis) and then over the course of the semester complicate and nuance those arguments by introducing agency and empowerment for the consumers of global culture. We will do this by closely studying actual case studies (from reality TV in Saudi Arabia or McDonalds in Japan) in order to understand the stakes involved in the struggle to define and "protect" national and cultural identity. At the end of this semester long course students should have gained a deep understanding of why the process of global flow of culture is a deeply contentious and political phenomenon. Understanding these conflicts through the lens of identity will help students complicate that term as well as interrogate their views about their own identity. Prerequisites: COMM 280 and COMM 290; majors and minors only.
The Trouble with Normal: Normalization, Discourse and Power (COMM-349)
One of the primary ways that social power and control are exercised is through the establishment and enforcement of "norms": gender norms, racial norms, sexuality norms, norms of able-bodiedness, norms of beauty and body size, and more. This course delves deeply into the theoretical literature of normalization, especially the work of Michel Foucault, and applies it to a wide range of topics including sexuality, disability, gender roles, body size, and more. The course is cross-listed with Queer Studies. Prerequisites: COMM 280 and COMM 290 or consent of instructor.
Advanced Journalism (COMM-350)
This course allows students to explore the planning, reporting, and writing of in-depth news stories. It also explores the ethical considerations of such projects. The organic and collaborative process provides students the opportunity to hone their writing skills by focusing on the importance of story structure and content. Prerequisites: COMM 108 or COMM 280 or COMM 290 or consent of instructor. (Offered spring only)
Directed Study (COMM-361)
Directed Study (COMM-362)
Independent Study (COMM-363)
Independent Study (COMM-364)
Advanced Topics in Communication (COMM-399)
A general category used only in the evaluation of transfer credit.
Special Topics Seminar (COMM-401)
These seminar courses focus intensively upon a particular aspect of communication. Recent examples include Visual Culture and Media and Cultural Policy. Prerequisites: COMM 280 and COMM 290 or consent of instructor.
Language, Identity and Politics: Discourse and the Public Sphere (COMM-402)
This course examines the role of language and discourse in constructing, maintaining and transforming identities, publics and politics in late 20th century democracies. Throughout, we will consider the relationship between language use and unequal relations of power. We will begin with an introduction to discourse studies and explore discourse as symbolic power, social practice and ideology. Next, we will examine the role of discourse in constructing and maintaining identities and communities, including those of sublatern and marginalized publics. Finally, we will examine and critique the role of discourse in public sphere(s) from Afrocentric, feminist and queer perspectives. Prerequisites: COMM 280 and COMM 290 or consent of instructor.
Culture and Communication (COMM-403)
This seminar takes a historical and critical approach to understand the role communication plays in creating various cultural experiences. Topics include: How can we best understand and study the construction of "culture" through a communication lens? What does "American culture" mean within a pluralistic and diverse society? How are different cultural voices created, heard or erased? How is "America" constructed from international scholars' perspectives? Prerequisites: COMM 280 and COMM 290 or consent of instructor.
Media and the Presidency (COMM-404)
This course examines the relationship between the media and the American presidency from both a historical and contemporary perspective. The seminar focuses on the historical dynamics of the relationship, the role of institutional factors in White House coverage, the influence of presidential press coverage on public perception of the presidency, and the influence of the media on presidential election campaigns. Resources and texts represent a diversity of views among scholars, journalists and presidential administration personnel. Prerequisites: COMM 280 and COMM 290 or consent of instructor.
Rhetoric and Social Movements (COMM-406)
This course focuses on the historical rhetorics of discontent and transformation. Students will examine the characteristics and functions of persuasive discourse produced by social movements; the ways in which symbolic action sought to shape perceptions of concrete realities. Of particular interest will be the intersection of cultural context, biography, and creative rhetorical strategy. Prerequisites: COMM 280 and COMM 290 or consent of instructor.
Critical Perspectives in Communication (COMM-408)
This course is designed to acquaint students with criticism as a method for answering research questions in communication. Students will be provided with opportunities to apply various methods in the writing of essays analyzing various kinds of communication texts - both discursive and non-discursive. Public communication via public speaking, broadcast, film and print media as well as art, architecture and music will be among the texts examined over the course of the term. Prerequisites: COMM 280 and COMM 290 or consent of instructor.
International Communication (COMM-409)
This seminar examines the nature of information flows within and between nations, the issues raised by such communication, and the institutions involved and patterns evident in the development of and relations between nation-states. The course explores issues surrounding the constituent role that the news and entertainment media have played in the formation and maintenance of the nation-state. Topics raised will include uses of information in domestic and foreign policy, the extension of cultural imperialism, corporate invasion of privacy, and incursions upon sovereignty and national security. In examining the resolution of such issues, the course analyzes how nations' power is distributed and utilized among multiple forces. Prerequisites: COMM 280 and COMM 290 or consent of instructor.
Rhetoric and the American Experience (COMM-413)
This course explores the American rhetorical tradition and some of the speakers, ideas, and movements that have given American rhetorical tradition its voice and texture. We will read broadly and deeply key oratorical texts from the nineteenth century to the present and examine the scholarship that has attempted to explain these acts of symbolic influence. Our work will culminate in the drafting and thorough revising of article-length research essays. Students will be invited throughout the seminar to stretch and refine their voices as working rhetorical scholars. Prerequisites: COMM 280 and COMM 290 or consent of instructor.
Conflict and Communication (COMM-415)
A study of how the use of communication during the process of social interaction creates and resolves conflict. The course will explore theories relating to the nature of conflict, strategic negotiation models, issues revolving around third party intervention, and other topics related to the current research in peace, reconciliation, conflict and communication theory. Prerequisites: COMM 280 and COMM 290 or consent of instructor.
Senior Research (COMM-451)
Senior Research (COMM-452)