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Featured Courses

Fall 2016


Comm 210A:Performance Studies I

Professor Steve Timm

Going Solo:  Writing and Performing Monologues

We’ll focus on the history, texts and creative processes of solo performance pieces—particularly those pieces connected to social, cultural and political movements over the last 100 years.   Students will write and perform solo pieces using a variety of source materials:  personal narratives, historical figures and events, political/social movements, current events and literature.    While the emphasis in this course will be on the creation of original works, a thorough understanding of the critical and historical traditions influencing and shaping the performance practice is expected.  No prerequisites. 

Comm 291A: Ethical Issues in Medical Communication

Professor Geoff Klinger

This course is designed to provide students with a focused introduction to a growing area of interest in our discipline: health communication.  We will examine the intersections of three main areas of study: ethics, communication, and medicine.  We will explore both theoretical connections and practical applications to better understand the nature of the interconnections between these three related areas of study.  We will focus, especially, on ethical flashpoints in the practice of medicine and investigate how communication helped, or hindered the resolution of the ethical tensions that arose from these situations.


Comm 291B: Communication and Difference Through Game-Play

Professor David Worthington

In this class we will engage in understanding how we communicate ideas and identities through game play.  Using two deep-immersion historical games, students will research and embody historical figures who are struggling with some of the "Great Moments" of history.  Each game will take about 5 weeks to play, the rest of the time will be spent in historical set-up and debriefing.  Students in the past have found this a particularly compelling way to learn about the past and to develop understanding and empathy for a variety of identity issues.

COMM 291C: Advertising and Consumer Culture

Professor Seth Friedman

We like to tell ourselves that we purchase consumer goods and services because they fill a need. At some level, however, we also realize that our purchasing decisions are deeply linked to our identities. The consumption of goods and services plays a crucial role in the U.S. economy, but consumer culture is more than the sum of the things that we own. In fact, it now seems normal to be addressed as a potential consumer in virtually every waking moment of our lives.  This course will aim to make us more aware of the ways that advertising operates in the U.S., the connections between advertising and the media industries, as well as how consumer culture impacts our everyday lives. We will address questions such as: What information, ideas, and values are communicated in advertising? What role does advertising play in a variety of media, such as broadcasting, film, print, and web platforms? How are brands created and why do we care about them? What do advertisers know about consumers? Do advertisers use tactics that encourage people to separate themselves into distinct groups or cohere into a diverse community? Is it now possible not to adopt the values of consumer culture? In short, this class will examine the intersections of advertising, consumer culture, and the media, with an eye toward understanding the history, goals, and strategies of the advertising industry. 


Comm 315A: Gender & Theatre

Professor Susan Anthony

This class explores ways in which theatrical works (drama, theatre, and popular entertainment) reflect, reinforce, challenge or disrupt sex and gender roles throughout various historical periods. Topics will include depictions of women and men in drama and theatre, LGBT performance, and performance art. Students will read and discuss dramatic texts, theatrical/dramatic theory, work on research, writing, and speaking skills, and attend live performances.


Comm 328A: Tps: Environmental Communication

Professor Jennifer Adams

In this class, we will explore the communication and conflict surrounding "the environment," with a focus on the social construction of nature and critical/cultural approaches to environmental discourse. Policies and practices related to the environment result not just from the facts from science alone, but often emerge from the influence of our social constructions about our "natural resources." We will consider the ways that wilderness and nature have been constructed in American culture, the public controversies that have developed surrounding the environment, the advocacy groups that advance various environmental causes, and the scientific and corporate discourse about the environment. We will also consider the role of media in the ongoing discourses about the environment.

COMM 401A: Covering the 2016 Campaigns

Professor Miranda Spivack

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.