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COMM 401

Special Topics in Communication

Recent topics have included Public Relations, International Media, Family Communication, Conflict Resolution, American Theatre and the Vietnam War, Human Communication Theory, American Film and Culture and Writing for Stage, Screen and TV. This course number may be repeated for credit with different topics.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1/2-1 course

Fall Semester information

Miranda Spivack

401A: Tps: Covering the 2016 Campaigns

In what is already a history-making presidential contest, we will examine the role of the media - old media, new media, social media - in framing the issues both nationally and in state/local races. Are the media serving as a "fourth estate" watchdog on the candidates, and probing the issues that are confronting the electorate? We will try to determine what the framers of the Constitution envisioned with the First Amendment and how that can affect mainstream news organizations- as well as others purporting to play a journalistic role. We also will look at the roles that gender, race, and new American voters may play in the outcome in November across the country.

Spring Semester information

Timothy Good

401A: Tps:The Other Side of the Arts

The course will investigate different models of arts organizations, including union-based models, alternate structures (other than unions), leadership in the arts, entrepreneurship, startups, world markets for arts, grants and fundraising, and the very broad variety of graduate programs that are possible. The work will culminate with a final project which will connect these ideas with the real world of the arts: complete design portfolio, budgeting and planning for a guest artist or event here on campus, a fleshed out marketing or development plan, full audition plus resume/headshot, etc. We will cover theaters, symphonies, dance companies, art galleries, museums, corporate applications, and newer models that ignore these boundaries. A primary goal of the course is to bring together ideas and practices from the "real worlds" of art, music, dance, writing, and theater, for mutual benefit.

Seth Friedman

401B: Tps:Film Theory

What is cinema? This seemingly simple question will be the primary focus of this upper-level seminar on film theory because it has consistently inspired great debate about the medium since its emergence. Indeed, many critics argue that an interrogation of the essence of cinema has only become more salient in the digital age, as the ways that films are now constructed, distributed, viewed, interpreted, and discussed have both dramatically changed and remained remarkably similar amidst the advent of new media technologies. As this example begins to suggest, scholarly examinations of the meaning of cinema are often centered on two ostensibly contradictory concerns: the medium's specificity and its connections to other arts and modes of communication. Consequently, this class will survey a number of the most influential classic and contemporary writings on cinema to help us gain a better understanding of how the medium is distinct as well as related to other forms of expression, social institutions, and cultural practices.

Fall Semester information

Miranda Spivack

401A: Tps:Washington and the Grassroots: A post-election assessment

Following the historic 2016 presidential election, in which a political figure not unlike William Jennings Bryan played to populist discontent over the economy, jobs, religion and immigration, this course will take an investigative reporting approach to assess the impact of those promises on communities in the heartland. Derisively known by many coastal elites as "flyover country," communities in states such as Kansas and Indiana have shown their political muscle in helping to frame the election's outcome. Will the new administration make good on its promises to these voters? How will those promises - or changing views from Washington - affect communities and businesses, many of whom have relied on farm workers and other laborers, including immigrants, as well as highly educated foreign engineers, to help keep their businesses humming? We will engage with residents across the midwest to examine the impact of Washington's policies on schools, healthcare, social services and employment, with the potential for publication and broadcast in popular media.