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COMM 401

Special Topics in Communication

Recent topics have included Public Relations, 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

Deborah Douglas

401A: Tps:Cross-Cultural Journalism

This course examines journalistic practices and communications techniques to speak across difference during an era marked by challenges to effective discourse and industry disruption. The underlying philosophy is journalism and journalistic techniques are critical to a working democracy, especially accuracy, transparency and ethical norms. We will be challenged to engage with and understand communities of people and interests different than our own.

Specifically, students will identify the ways in which bias creeps into reporting and messaging, and how unchecked bias and filter bubbles have the potential to lock audiences out of conversations instead of inviting them into one. We will interrogate where bias ends and point of view begins. Importantly, race, ethnicity and class will be centered, and we will ground ourselves in the history of underrepresented and marginalized voices, such as the poor, to better understand how to tell compelling stories in real-time.

We will explore what kind of journalism or strategic communication may be produced with a shift in perspective, and analyze and critique media sources. We will explore the complexity of covering certain topics, such as the 2020 U.S. Census or crime, and explore our assumptions about what stories and messages matter from a business perspective but also an ethical human one.

Assignments will include a mix of media critiques, book reviews, reporting assignments, an op-ed and presentations. There will be current events quizzes. Opportunities to create videos and leverage other media forms, such as social media campaigns, are welcome. Class will be a mixture of lectures and a workshopping environment where teamwork will be required. This class is appropriate for students interested in journalism or strategic communication because stories, wherever and however they're told, make the world go `round.

Spring Semester information

Susan Anthony

401A: Tps:Shakespeare Spectacle in the Schools

This course trains DePauw students to direct local middle and high school students in the mounting of fully staged 75-minute cutting of a Shakespeare play. Students spend the first four weeks in the classroom learning best practice techniques for directing a play, teaching Shakespeare, and working with youth. The remainder of the semester is spent at a participating Putnam County school leading the participants in creating their Shakespeare production while also delivering the physical, emotional and intellectual benefits that can be acquired through the experience of enacting Shakespeare's language. This course culminates in the Spring Spectacle of Shakespeare, a day-long festival at DePauw University's Moore Theatre (Green Center) comprised of performances of each participating school's play. DePauw's Shakespeare in the Schools program is inspired by and produced in association with Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, MA. The course requires a M/W/F 2:30-5:00 commitment to accommodate transportation and in-school rehearsals. It is repeatable for credit under different prefixes. See instructor for details and required SPAC.

Fall Semester information

Seth Friedman

401A: 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.

Spring Semester information

Susan Anthony

401A: Tps:Shakespeare in the Schools