The graduate program in Communication at the University of Pittsburgh is consistently identified as one of the top ten programs in the country. Its faculty and graduates have provided leadership to the field and have shaped the study of communication in significant ways.
The program aims to train rigorous researchers, insightful theorists, and excellent teachers for placement in tenure-stream positions at either major research universities or quality four-year colleges. To this end, the program offers philosophical, theoretical, critical, historical, and cultural approaches to the study of communication. The curriculum includes traditional and innovative course work from four areas of emphasis:
- History, Theory and Criticism of Rhetoric
- Media and Culture
- Public Address and Argument
- Rhetoric of Science
The Department sponsors The Agora SPEAKERS SERIES during the Fall and Spring terms as well as other academic colloquia.
History, Theory, and Criticism of Rhetoric
(Clarke, Hartelius, Lyne, Marshall, Mitchell, Olson, Poulakos, and Reid-Brinkley)
The program of rhetoric at the University of Pittsburgh has enjoyed considerable prominence since the 1920s. Since then it has produced influential scholarship in the theory, the history and the criticism of rhetorical discourse. Today’s program encourages opening of new areas of study rather than settling into established territories. Informed by the demands of tradition and innovation, the program regards rhetoric as an orientation to the world and a situated practice. As such it promotes a rhetorical understanding of other disciplines and welcomes their contributions to it.
The Department has a long tradition of excellence in the study of rhetorical theory and practice from antiquity to the present day. Courses include rhetorical theory, classical rhetoric, rhetorical criticism, rhetoric and philosophy, critical theory, contemporary rhetoric, and visual rhetoric. Many students also draw from course work in media and cultural studies. Others take their already strong background in rhetoric to work in other fields such as Bioethics; Latin American Studies; Russian and Eastern European Studies; Classics; Cultural Studies; Philosophy; History and Philosophy of Science; Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies; and Public and International Affairs.
Media and Culture
(Clarke, Kuchinskaya, Hartelius, Lyne, Malin, Mitchell, Olson, Zboray, and Reid-Brinkley; secondary faculty: Feuer and Fischer)
The Media and Culture area aims at cultural, contextual, and historical understandings of media. Courses examine cultural, economic, political, and philosophical questions through historically and contextually grounded analyses of media. Approaches include those of the Birmingham and Frankfurt Schools, feminism, continental philosophy, social and political theory, American Studies, histoire du livre, the new historicism, Marxism, critical race theory, oral history, pragmatism, visual rhetoric, and cultural and intellectual history. Faculty and students in Media and Culture also routinely combine their interests with other areas of departmental strength and align with other programs at the University, such as Film Studies, Cultural Studies, Africana Studies, Women’s Studies, Bioethics, Philosophy, and History and Philosophy of Science, as well as Pitt’s area-studies centers focusing on East Asia, Western Europe, and Latin America.
Public Address and Argument
(Clarke, Hartelius, Lyne, Malin, Mitchell, Olson, Poulakos, Reid-Brinkley, and Zboray).
The historically grounded study of public argument and discourse has long been a touchstone for the Department of Communication faculty. Students explore both the potentials and problems of public argument and discourse within historically specific events and traditions.
Questions include: How does the content and form of argument bear on judgment and action? What public forums are available today, and to whom? What are the promises and pitfalls inherent in grounding civic culture in argumentation and debate as organizing principles? And what forms of individual or collective agency are possible in public deliberation? Points of departure include argumentation theory, applied debate practice, political traditions, critical theory, mass mediated discourses, African American rhetoric, and communication pedagogy.
Rhetoric of Science
(Clarke, Hartelius, Kuchinskaya, Lyne, Malin, Marshall, Mitchell, Olson, Reid-Brinkley, Poulakos, and Zboray; secondary faculty: McGuire, Machamer, Parker).
The Rhetoric of Science is grounded in the assumption that rhetoric mediates the shape and influence of science. The rhetorical analysis of scientific texts brings attention to the persuasive dimensions of scientific and technologically mediated cultural artifacts. Critical study of science policy controversies looks to those public places where scientists, journalists, politicians, and others debate scientific issues. Resources include the Department of Communication, the Department of History and Philosophy of Science, and the Center for Bioethics and Health Law. A Certificate in Rhetoric of Science may be completed as part of graduate work towards the doctorate in Communication. Concurrent MAs may be sought in cognate departments, like the History and Philosophy of Science, Philosophy, or Bioethics.