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Courses in Communication Studies

Frequently Taught Courses Include:​

Communication Theory (COMM 220)

Communication ranges from face-to-face interaction to globally distributed film, music, and television. Even such diverse objects and events as clothing, presidential speeches, email exchange, and the alphabet are considered to be communicative. Though communication appears a fundamental part of human existence—playing a role in almost all aspects of our lives from love and friendship, entertainment and play, to war and politics—scholars, philosophers, individuals, and communities have long debated precisely what communication is or what it means to communicate.

The course provides students with a broad introduction to the field of communication and the central theories and debates that guide the discipline from a critical, cultural perspective. This means that the course considers how communication is situated within specific cultural contexts as well as helps to produce those cultural contexts. Further, it is invested in thinking through how communication plays a role in relations of cultural, social, economic, and political power. The course will also introduce students to the sub-disciplines in Communication, attending to how each approaches and theorize communication. 

Rhetoric & Social Change (COMM 230)

While seemingly simple, the nature of rhetoric has been disputed in the field of rhetorical studies since Ancient Greece. For some, rhetoric is meant to cover over truth. For others, rhetoric uncovers truth. Still for others, rhetoric creates or constitutes truths, where more than one reality may seem to exist.  The purpose of this course is to introduce students to contemporary theories of rhetoric as social protest. Operating from the assumption that language reflects, selects, and deflects reality in its construction of how we perceive the world, the class will explore how, why, and what influences this process. The central aim is to answer the questions: “What is rhetoric,” “How does rhetoric function,” and “In what ways does rhetoric affect social change?” Students will gain fundamental skills in analyzing public artifacts as a means of becoming critically literate members of society. The readings will help students understand how, and in what ways, audiences come to identify themselves and make sense of the realities in which they are produced.  


Visual Rhetoric (COMM 430)

This course aims to interrogate the relationship between rhetoric and the visual. Devoting attention to theories that explore the symbolic and performative dimensions of visual culture, this course introduces advanced students to theories of visual rhetoric and interpretation as they relate to argumentation, media, film, culture, art, museums, memorials, memory, and public spectacle. Specifically, we will consider the following questions: What is rhetoric? What is visuality and the image? What is the relationship between rhetoric and the visual? How do images act rhetorically upon, or constitute, audiences? What force do visual images have?


Issues in Rhetorical Studies: Contemporary Colonial Communication (COMM 435)

This writing proficiency course aims to introduce students to the highly contested and controversial topic postcolonial rhetorics in an age of globalization. Contemporary Colonial Communication, rests on the assumption that we currently live in a colonial environment in which the ownership of knowledge and progress are considered the property of the dominant hegemonic class. This age of colonialism is distinct from European territorial occupation (although territory is, in many instances, still a point of contention), in that the colonized and the colonizer are not clearly marked. Instead, contemporary colonization uses the ideologies of progress and capital as an ability to ignore the knowledges of cultures and peoples that are different than their own. Students will be asked to interrogate and assess notions of feminism(s), representation, nativism, identity, essentialism, hybridity, histories, diaspora, and resistance. Through critical navigations of theoretical, cultural, political, and media texts, this course is positioned to set up, and seek answers to, the following questions: Who or what constitutes the colonialism, postcolonial, de-colonial, the global and the transnational? What relationship does postcolonial theory bear on the contemporary moment? How can the present, in any world, be understood as emanating from a history of colonialism? In what ways does postcolonial studies continue to help us to consider new ways of understanding borders, boundaries, dis/locations and identities? What might be the limits of postcolonial theory and criticism and how, if at all, can they be overcome? 


Communication Internship Course (COMM 459)

Internships are off-campus experiential learning activities designed to provide students with opportunities to make connections between the theory and practice of Communication Studies and the practical application of this study in a professional work environment. Each intern will select an internship that will further your knowledge and skills in oral, electronic, and/or written communication. An internship is not simply a job; it must employ skills and concepts you have learned in your communication studies coursework. Internship organization must provide supervised training in agreed upon communication areas. Internships offer the opportunity to “try out” a career while gaining relevant experience and professional connections.  Internships are completed under the guidance of an on-site supervisor and a faculty sponsor, who in combination with the student will create a framework for learning and reflection.  


Image by Pavł Polø
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