Featured 2174 Spring Courses

The Kenneth P. Dietrich School of
Arts & Sciences Course Descriptions

COMMRC 1070/30882 Undergraduate Research Proseminar
Dr. Gordon Mitchell
Tuesday/Thursday 2:30-3:45

The undergraduate research experience opens horizons for students to envision pursuing scholarship as a profession. What does it mean to be a professional scholar? How have such conceptions changed through time, and what might the future hold for those who aspire to a “life of the mind”? The academic research profession increasingly calls on scholars to explain their work to researchers from other fields, frame their research findings as useful contributions to society, and interact with public audiences. Hence a communication-based perspective provides a useful point of departure for students from the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities alike to explore these opportunities and challenges in a collaborative, interdisciplinary seminar setting. Assignments include interactive reading exercises, an Open Access digital repository project, reading quizzes, and a final paper. More information (including syllabus and past OMETs) is available here: https://honorsprosem.wordpress.com/

COMMRC 1101/29945 Evidence
Dr. Gordon Mitchell
Tuesday/Thursday 11:00-12:15

Evidence is what often distinguishes an unsupported assertion from a sound argument, and it also is a concept at the center of intellectual movements such as “Evidence-Based Medicine.” This course explores different types of evidence, methods for testing and evaluating evidentiary claims, and controversies about the evolving role of evidence in professional and public life. In addition to providing opportunities for students to hone critical analysis and reasoning skills, assignments will develop fresh perspectives on contemporary idioms such as “truthiness" and communicative patterns such as "motivated reasoning.” Interdisciplinary readings will address the role of evidence in fields such as education, medicine, law, and business. No prerequisites are required and enrollment by students outside the communication major is invited.

COMMRC 1102/11109 Organizational Communication
Dr. David DeIuliis

Monday/Wednesday 3:00-4:15

Since the start of civilization, human beings have organized to accomplish shared objectives. From the earliest hunting clans to the most modern institutions, the organization has remained a fundamentally human concept, shaped by human concerns and contingencies. Using both theoretical and practical materials, we will examine the role of communication in organizational contexts such as schools, churches, non-profits, businesses, governments, and healthcare systems. We will consider topics such as organizational decision-making and leadership in light of several perspectives on and approaches to communication networks, structures and environments. Evaluation will be based on written assignments and class activities, in addition to one oral presentation and one cumulative exam. 

COMMRC 1103/29927 Rhetoric and Culture (W)
Dr. David Marshall
Monday 6:00-8:30

That Hillary Clinton shimmy in the first Presidential Debate of 2016—what emotion did it perform?  Was it joy, stress-relief, the pose of a happy warrior?  How much do we need to know about the situation she was in (her history, her opponent, US gender dynamics, the medium through which she was communicating), in order to understand the gesture fully?  This class thinks about the rhetorical power of emotions and the degree to which emotions are molded by culture.  We look at a variety of case studies: the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” gesture via Google Images; the Japanese conception of iki; deadpan in the film, Mysterious Skin; and others.  We also consider emerging questions concerning emotions and technology: can an app help people on the autism spectrum understand emotions, and can CCTV security cameras recognize “nervousness”?  In this course, students have the opportunity to develop a project on an emotion of their choice. 

COMMRC 1109/10343 Nonverbal Communication
Dr. David DeIuliis
Wednesday 6:00-8:30

Every instance of human communication is an event or experience that reconstructs our identities in real time. The purpose of this course is to examine nonverbal communication, or the ways we communicate without written or spoken words. Topics to be covered include body language, eye behavior, vocal inflections, dress and appearance, arrangement of objects in space, and use of touch and time as weapons of wordless communication. Additional topics include nonverbal communication with nonhuman technologies, such as smart phones, as well as the conditions and consequences of nonverbal communication across cultures. Evaluation will be based on written assignments and class activities, in addition to one oral presentation and one cumulative exam. 

COMMRC 1120/29980 Rhetoric of Cold War
Dr. Paul Johnson
Tuesday/Thursday 1:00-2:15

This course surveys cinematic artifacts, speeches, propaganda, and media surrounding key events and narratives of the Cold War. We will focus on key political themes and salient events in American political history—the origins of the Cold War, what it meant to live in an atomic age, the ideological clash between capitalism and socialism, McCarthyism, the presidential election of 1964, the Vietnam War and its aftermath, and Ronald Reagan’s rhetorical strategies for mobilizing the Soviet threat in his presidency—to chart the symbolic dimensions of the politics of the Cold War in the interest of understanding how the Cold War helped to configure America’s national identity in the 20th century and its legacies today.

COMMRC 1143/27568 Knowledge, Power, & Desire (W)
Dr. Olga Kuchinskaya
Tuesday/Thursday 11:00-12:15

The course explores interconnections between power and forms of knowledge and desire. We begin with Michel Foucault’s description of the panopticon, a technique of social control that promotes self-disciplining subjects. We then focus on how power struggles shape what we know and don’t know, forms of discipline we encounter, who we become, and what we desire in a variety of contemporary contexts.  Examples are drawn from the studies of organizational cultures, new media and surveillance, expertise, social movements, sexuality, and identity production. 

COMMRC 1149/29981 Environmental Rhetoric
Chloe Hansen
Tuesday/Thursday 11:00-12:15

Atmospheric carbon levels recently passed the 400 ppm threshold, prompting both widespread concern among climate scientists and an increasingly vocal discourse of climate change denial. Some scientists assert that we have entered the new geological epoch of the “Anthropocene” or the period in which human activity has become the dominant influence on the Earth’s geology and ecosystems. In addition, protests over pipeline construction, petitions to save bees from pesticides, the militant-occupation of government-protected lands, news of animal extinctions, and so on, continue to proliferate.

From these, and many other examples, it is clear that the relationships between humans and the environment have been and continue to be major areas of public concern and dispute. These relationships will be the focus in this class as we examine the theoretical foundations of environmental thinking, competing discourses about our roles in the natural world and rhetorical framing of environmental risks. Classes will focus on theoretical texts, historical environmental movements and recent case studies. Students will produce weekly discussion papers, give in-class presentation(s) and write a final term paper. 

COMMRC 1160/29924 Visual Rhetoric (W)
Dr. Lester Olson
Tuesday 6:00-8:30

This course will center on recent research concerning visual rhetoric with attention to social differences, especially gender, sex, and sexuality. The course examines the relationship among visual texts, rhetoric, and spectators/viewers. It will concentrate primarily on a range of interpretive and critical approaches for studying instances of visual communication. The course has been organized to foreground rhetorical actions: performing and seeing, remembering and memorializing, confronting and resisting, commodifying and consuming, and governing and authorizing. Class room discussions will feature twentieth-century illustrations and examples from contemporary U.S. culture. Students will read essays by researchers who study visuality from a range of rhetorical approaches. The course has been designed to help the student to improve his or her writing abilities. Students will write three papers demonstrating their ability to analyze and interpret visual texts. The method of instruction includes lecture, discussion, film and practice workshops. Considerations of gender, sex, race, sexuality, and class will be interwoven throughout the course materials and discussions.

COMMRC 1520/20219 Advanced Public Speaking
Dr. Michael Bannon
Tuesday 6:00-8:30

In this course students will prepare and deliver public speeches at an advanced skills level and will examine and practice professional speech writing strategies. The teaching style will utilize the intensively interactive methods of workshop learning with the constructive criticism of both the instructor and classmates. In addition to a number of ungraded practice exercises, students will write and deliver four formal, graded speeches chosen from the following categories: Speech of Introduction, Persuasive Policy Speech, Commemorative Values Speech, Speech of Explanation (Apologia), Public Relations Crisis Position Speech, Point-Counterpoint Pairs Speech, Graduation Commencement Speech, and a Self-Designed Category. One speech will require use and command of a modern audio-visual technology (i.e., PowerPoint, Open Internet Connection). We will discuss and practice advanced speaking strategies, tactics and performance skills. Teaching methods will include (1) extensive speaking performance, (2) intensive individualized student and instructor critiques, (3) learning other speaking genres in addition to the informative, persuasive, and ceremonial (i.e., impromptu, point-counterpoint), (4) learning the practical deliberative functions of civil public discourse, (5) learning additional theory, especially theoretical concepts emphasizing style, (6) intensive study of exemplary models, both professional and student-generated, and (7) extensive self-analysis through submission of weekly journals reflecting on personal strengths and weaknesses. The course will prepare students for those oral communication opportunities that cannot be completely predicted, prepared, or written out in advance, especially occasions of impromptu and extemporaneous public speaking. It would concentrate on teaching theoretical concepts which have constructive application in practice and on speaking situations that students are most likely to encounter after graduation. It would highlight creativity, style, and delivery skills from a deliberative, liberal arts perspective combined with intensive practice, direct feedback and realistic simulations.