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Course Descriptions

Department of Communication
Graduate Course Offerings

Spring 2016

I. COM 7325: Critical Methods
(Fulfills PhD and MA Thesis Option Methods Requirement)
Dr. David Payne
dpayne@usf.edu

Critical Studies of Communication is intended to be a survey of major approaches, concepts, and readings that comprise the history and practice of critical scholarship in communication.  It is a required course for all Ph.D. and all M.A. students in Communication who plan to do critical scholarship in their theses and dissertations.
The goals of this class are threefold:  1. To familiarize students with the traditional literatures of critical methodology, especially as it has influenced communication research; 2. To promote understanding of key concepts and methodological issues that have shaped and sponsored critical thinking and scholarship in communication; and 3. To encourage critical thinking and writing through examples and assignments that explore and apply these concepts and approaches to critical scholarship.

 

II. COM 6025: Health Communication
(Fulfills MA Core Requirement)
Dr. Marleah Dean Kruzel
marleahdeank@usf.edu

This course is a survey course of health communication. In this course, we make central the role of communication for health. While other disciplines (e.g., public health, health education, and medical sociology and anthropology) also are concerned with health, communication is the only one that places an emphasis on messages. Specifically, we will explore how individuals’ health behavior is framed by the levels/contexts in which we exist: individuals, interpersonal, organizational, community, media, and public policy.

 

III. ORI 6456: Performance Theory
(Fulfills MA Core Requirement)
Dr. Chris McRae
cjmcrae@usf.edu

In this course, we will survey performance theories, methods, and histories within the communication discipline. In particular we will consider the ways contemporary performance studies scholars and artists use performance as a metaphor, a method of inquiry, and subject of analysis in the study of human communication. In this survey of scholarship, we will explore theories, enduring questions, and methods of inquiry that broadly shape and inform performance studies. The overarching goal of this course is to introduce and consider the ways performance studies functions as a dynamic and critical mode of inquiry in communication studies.
 Note: This is a reading and performance intensive class. Please note that while creating and giving performances constitutes the majority of your work for the course, you do not have to be a trained or experienced performer to participate. You must, however, be committed to exploring how performance allows you to develop, refine, and create debate around the questions you are asking in your work.

 

IV. SPC 6934: Communication, Organizations, and Working Life
Dr. Jane Jorgenson
jjorgens@usf.edu

During our working lives, most of us will spend at least half of our waking hours in some form of work. We live in a culture that celebrates work as a vehicle of growth and enrichment. Even so, many organizations embrace processes and structures that contribute to a loss of work meaning, making work, in the words of Studs Terkel,  a “daily humiliation.”  In this course we will delve into these tensions as we embark on a search for “good work” as it is constructed in organizing practices. Through reading and discussion of various theoretical, historical, and popular perspectives on work, we will explore such topics as the gendered nature of work and the different meanings attached to paid and unpaid work, how emotionality is woven into work performances, as well as notions of success entailed in contemporary career discourses. We will also trace the ways in which current issues such as work-life management and personal branding in the New Economy have emerged, and we will consider what communication can offer to these discussions.

 

V. SPC 6934: Communication Pedagogy
Dr. Aubrey Huber
aubreyahuber@usf.edu

In this course we will approach the study of communication pedagogy theoretically and pragmatically by doing a survey of pedagogical theories, methods, and histories in the discipline.  In particular, we will examine the three different areas of communication pedagogy: communication education, instructional communication, and critical communication pedagogy. Theorizing the classroom as a site of research, we will discuss how pedagogical spaces, practitioners, and students are communicatively produced.  The goal of this course is to carefully consider the philosophical and practical implications of teaching and learning through a constitutive communication perspective.

 

VI. COM 7933:  Surveillance Studies
(PhD Seminar)
Dr. Rachel Dubrofsky
rdubrofsky@usf.edu

This course will take a critical approach to the analysis of surveillance practices and technologies. The term “surveillance” is generally used to refer to a systematic and focused manner of observing. It has also been theorized as an internalized system of discipline whereby people come to police themselves. Practices of looking are an important focus for an analysis of the implications of surveillance, particularly when it comes to disenfranchised bodies, and will be a focus of the course. Critical surveillance studies emphasizes practices of surveillance as producing knowledge, examining how surveillance discourses both are produced by, and produce identities (racialized, gendered, sexualized, and classed, for instance), spaces, communities, and institutions.
 This course will think through the implications of surveillance, looking at the relationship between surveillance and substantive forms of inequality, exploring what is at stake in current surveillance practices. The readings for the course will be rooted in a tradition of surveillance studies, as well as in a feminist and a critical race tradition, with a focus on media, technology, and visual media (including popular forms of media). Rather than determine specific methods and theories for analyzing surveillance, we will work on developing questions that can provide insight into this topic, forefronting an agenda that challenges and problematizes critical issues.

 

VII. COM 7933:  Queering Communication
(PhD Seminar)
Dr. Keith Berry
kberry@usf.edu

People orient to and perform everyday life narratively. The stories we tell, hear, believe, and use serve to define, organize, and judge the meaningful contact we create with others in communicative interaction. Stories also conceal as much as they reveal; sometimes with strategic benefits to some, and the marginalization of others. This Ph.D. seminar examines Queer Theory, which is, at the very least, a dynamic theoretical approach and worldview in which scholars work to “queer” (i.e., trouble, disrupt, render aporiatic) and (re)imagine normative conceptualizations and practices of “identity.” We will spend a majority of our time focusing on issues of sexual identity and orientation, and sex/gender, including issues specific to queer persons and communities of color. We will also explore what it means to queer other dimensions of lived experience, such as family, home, love, and loss. Connections between phenomenology and ethnomethodology will also be addressed. Supporting these investigations will be global discussion of the relationship between Queer Theory and communication, and what “queering communication” looks like and offers Communication research. The seminar is open, and will be of interest, to a diverse range of research areas. No previous coursework in Queer Theory is required. Don’t hesitate to see me with any questions on the course.

 

Fall 2015

I. COM 6001: Theories and Histories of Communication
(Required for all incoming PhD and MA Students)
M: 6.30 pm – 9.15 pm. CIS 3057
Dr. David A. Payne & Dr. Jane Jorgenson
dpayne@usf.edu; jjorgens@usf.edu
This course introduces students to theory and research in communication, to graduate study in the field, and to the communication program at USF. With a view to cultivating an appreciation for the interdisciplinary nature of communication study, the course attempts to provide a conceptual and 
historical orientation to some of the enduring questions, core research traditions, and significant theoretical perspectives that have animated communication scholarship.​​​

 

II. SPC 7325: Qualitative Methods of Comm Research
(Fulfills PhD and MA Thesis Option Methods Requirement)
W: 6.30 pm – 9.15 pm. CIS 3057
Dr. Ambar Basu
abasu@usf.edu
This course will lead us through foundational aspects in qualitative research such as conceptualization, design and data collection, and analyses — in communication studies. The course includes discussion on the history and theories of qualitative research even as it aims to provide students an introduction to several techniques for, and issues in, gathering, analyzing, writing up and applying qualitative data. Course readings will come from sub-disciplines in communication as well as other disciplines.  The ethical and political dynamics of qualitative research, and the relationships with other methodological approaches will also be discussed.

 

III. COM 6345: Contemporary Cultural Studies
(Fulfills MA Core Requirement)
R: 6.30 pm – 9.15 pm. CIS 3063
Dr. Aisha Durham
aishadurham@usf.edu
The course will provide an opportunity for students to become familiar with major theoretical frameworks and methodological approaches in communication and cultural studies to understand contemporary social life. The course will be organized around four key areas in communication and cultural studies: Power, Representation, Identity, and Experience. These areas will anchor graduate-led discussion and text-based, independent research about a cultural product, process, performance, or practice represented in commercial media. British and American cultural studies traditions that blend the popular with sustained analyses of structure will be emphasized, and comparative, intersectional perspectives privileging minoritized, diasporic bodies will be integrated. We will read excerpts about the key areas from canonical work alongside more contemporary and focused, book-length discussions to map the trajectory of the field and to address the implications of cultural studies as a political-intellectual project today.  Other than our key areas, we will cover a range of topics from consumer capitalism, cultural citizenship to postfeminism. Each course section will elucidate the interrelationship between the state, economy, and civil society, and the course as a whole will provide the language and the lens to examine the dynamic ways citizens, consumers, and social actors make meaning or make sense of our world.
The course is intended to provide an introduction to cultural studies, and it is structured to provide practical professional training considering students will perform peer paper reviews, present abbreviated research findings, and submit a draft of a journal-ready manuscript by the end of the course.

 

IV. Com 6121: Organizational Communication
(Fulfills MA Core Requirement)
T: 6.30 pm – 9.15 pm. CIS 3057
Dr. Mahuya Pal
mpal@usf.edu

The course provides an introduction to theory and research on human communication in complex organizations, including the communicative impact of organizations on the broader society. The survey of perspectives includes images of communication from the perspective of interpretive, critical, postmodern, and postcolonial approaches to the study of organizational communication. In addition, the course maps the landscape of organizational communication in the context of the contemporary neoliberal economy and remains committed to thinking about applying our knowledge to different social settings.

 

V. SPC 6934: Doing Research with Discourse Analysis
R: 6.30 pm – 9.15 pm. CIS 3057
Dr. Mariaelena Bartesaghi
mbartesaghi@usf.edu

Taking spoken and written discourse as multimodal, material and consequential social action, discourse analysis (DA) examines the layering of language, the connections between texts, and the multiply embedded matrices of institutional and social order. DA is not a method, but a way of appreciating how language DOES.
Weaving between theoretical considerations and data sessions, empirical claims and social critique, this course will teach you to work with discourse data, identify lexicogrammatical and discourse level strategies, learn to argue for what is interesting, and arrive at a persuasive analysis of how social knowledge is embodied and instantiated in communication.  Health and education,  psychiatry, medicine, organizational artifacts, ventriloquism, interviews as sites of power, disability, and much more. Students in this course are advised to also enroll in Dr. Noy's COM 7933 Inquiries in Language and Social Interaction.

 

VI. COM 6418: Communication Systems Practice
W: 6.30 pm – 9.15 pm. CIS 3063
Dr. Fred Steier
fsteier@usf.edu

This course will cultivate systemic understanding as a holistic way of seeing and acting. We will do this through the investigation of communication process in human systems, human-environmental systems, and human-technology systems. We will study key concepts that form a ground for systemic understanding, such as interdependence, emergence, complexity, chaos, self-organization, self-regulation, autopoiesis, mutual causality, and paradox - as well as the relational consequences for what it means to be an "observer" in a participatory universe.
Coupled with our theoretical work, we will develop a systems practice. We will address questions of how we might bring our systemic understanding to the balance of identity AND transformation of social systems in rapidly changing environments. We will look at how systemic understanding can be "applied" to learning systems, family systems/ family therapy, organizational change, and community/ societal/ ecological change.
The course will involve experiences/ projects that will allow us to become co-investigators of a system, as we look at the relational responsibility of being a systems observer and actor. This will include design of a learning space for our learning about systems.
Our interdisciplinary readings will feature, among others, the work of Gregory Bateson, Mary Catherine Bateson, Donella Meadows and Fritjof Capra.

 

VII. COM 7933:  Radicalism & Critique
(PhD Seminar)
T: 2 pm – 4.45 pm. CIS 3057
Dr. Abe Khan
abrahamkhan@usf.edu

How should we address the problem of racism in our society? What about the problems of sexism and heteronormativity? How might we oppose global capitalism or market fundamentalism? Answers to these questions obviously prove elusive, but asking them also produces a range of discourses, including those which are marked and which mark themselves as radical. But, the radical position often poses a feasibility problem: at the same time that it claims the space of authenticity, radicalism enacts a social position and speech protocol that legitimate political institutions take to be unintelligible. From its external relation to politics as they are commonly practiced, radicalism sacrifices practicality but derives a critical discourse, a political language that works to cast common sense into doubt. Across a variety of social contexts, this seminar addresses itself to the following interrelated questions: What is the radical position, and how does it offer us a mode of critique? 
We will pay particular attention to the possibility of radical critique under conditions defined by neoliberal capitalism, and we will also examine circumstances associated more directly with the politics of personal identity (race, gender, sexuality), as well as case studies specific to a variety of social institutions (labor, criminal justice, housing, etc.). 
Scholarly practice in this seminar will proceed primarily through theoretical reflection and textual analysis, though students who wish to engage qualitative methods to explore the relationship between radicalism and critique are welcome. Students should plan to participate in class discussion routinely, complete weekly writing assignments, and prepare a term paper. 

 

Spring 2015

I. COM 7325: Critical Media Studies
Seminar in Communication Research Methods
T: 6.30 pm – 9.15 pm. CIS 3057
Dr. Rachel E. Dubrofsky
rdubrofsky@usf.edu

We will take a critical cultural studies approach to the analysis of media. Critical scholarship is political and active, foregrounding theory as a means of meaningful intervention. This type of scholarship also requires a critical interrogation of the methods and theories we use for our research and an engagement with the ways in which these create knowledge. Broadly speaking, critical scholarship investigates questions of power, challenging that which is seen to produce objectionable power relations. This work is, at the same time, about resistance, dissidence and negotiation. We will pay particular attention to questioning how things function, how things come to make sense in a particular context at a given time—our work will be situated and contextual.
Rather than determine specific methods and theories for analyzing media, we will develop questions that provide insight into media sites, forefronting an agenda that challenges and problematizes critical issues. To help us with this project, the course will highlight the rich tradition of critical feminist and race scholarship relevant to the study of media.

 

II. SPC 7325: Critical Methods
Seminar in Communication Research Methods
M: 6.30 pm – 9.15 pm. CIS 3057
Dr. David Payne
dpayne@usf.edu

Critical Studies of Communication is intended to be a survey of major approaches, concepts, and readings that comprise the history and practice of critical scholarship in communication.  It is a required course for all Ph.D. and all M.A. students in Communication who plan to do critical scholarship in their theses and dissertations.
The goals of Critical Studies of Communication are threefold:  1. To familiarize students with the traditional literatures of critical methodology, especially as it has influenced communication research; 2. To promote understanding of key concepts and methodological issues that have shaped and sponsored critical thinking and scholarship in communication; and 3. To encourage critical thinking and writing through examples and assignments that explore and apply these concepts and approaches to critical scholarship.

 

III. COM7933: Communication and Community
Seminar in Communication Studies
M: 2 pm – 4.45 pm. CIS 3063
Dr. Fred Steier
fsteier@usf.edu

This course will cultivate an understanding of communication process and the creation and sustainability of community. We will explore community in many senses, from the geographical/spatial sense of community as a place where we live, work, and play together, to the “virtual” communities afforded by new information and communication technologies (ICT’s), to communities as ways of being together afforded by our practice – our communities of practice. As part of our exploration, concepts and entailments such as social capital, social networks, symbolic systems of community, and rituals of performance will also be examined. A key perspective is the idea of communities as living systems, which invites questions about how communities create ways of sustaining themselves, and balance identity and tradition with change and transformation in the face of rapidly changing environments. Ecological ideas of adaptation, resilience and sustainability are central to this discussion.
In addition, we will consider questions about how new technologies alter the landscape and soundscape of our “face-to-face” communities, while bringing about possibilities for more distant community connections and new possibilities for collective action. Finally, we will also take seriously the idea of our class as a scene for community (a learning community), recognizing how the very ideas that we play with surface in our own processes of interaction with each other. To this end, we will explore different forms of meeting and participating in conversation with each other, as well as engage in scenes of community practice (perhaps even including public spaces, community programs, and our campus).

 

IV. COM 7933: Autoethnography
Seminar in Communication Studies
W: 2 pm – 4.45 pm. CIS 3057
Dr. Carolyn Ellis
cellis@usf.edu

Autoethnography: research, writing, story, and method that connect the autobiographical and personal to the cultural, social, and political. In autoethnography, the researcher’s life, interactions with others, and group and cultural membership become a conscious part of what is studied. In the last two decades, qualitative researchers—from realists to impressionist writers—have begun to position themselves in their research and include themselves as participants in their interview and ethnographic studies of others. Likewise, autoethnographic projects that focus directly on the research and personal experiences of the author have burgeoned.
This class will explore definitions and history of autoethnographic inquiry, contextualizing autoethnography within qualitative methods and narrative theory, in relation to memoir, and at the intersection of social science and literature. We will concentrate on writing as a method of inquiry.  We will look at the different ways our scholarship might incorporate autoethnography, for example, as personal narrative, reflexive or narrative ethnography, indigenous ethnography, complete member tales, cultural autoethnography, ethnographic memoirs, and intimate journalism, among others. We will examine forms in which autoethnography might be presented, such as ethnographic accounts, analytic autoethnography, short stories, poetry, performance, documentaries, songs, and art. Autoethnography can be employed as method in multiple ways, including systematic personal introspection, reflexive interviews, interactive interviews, coconstructed narratives, and friendship as method. A focus of the class will be autoethnographic practices and issues, such as writing field notes, emotional recall, capturing experience, memory, truth, therapeutic aspects of this research, and ethics in writing about intimate others. Additionally, we will examine concerns in revising and revisioning our work, and in taking research to the community, to participants, and to journals.  
As we explore these ideas, we also will read about and practice narrative expression (including how to write emotionally, vulnerably, and evocatively), narrative techniques (such as writing dialogue, scenes, internal monologues, developing characters and plot), and analytic writing (including using appropriate literatures and framing our pieces conceptually).  Each student will do several short papers and a final project that includes personal narrative, which may focus on something in your life, be written from an interview as a relational autoethnography that focuses on your interaction with other participants, or position yourself as a researcher in a research project.

 

V. SPC 6934: Communication at the End of Life
Th: 5 pm – 7.45 pm. CIS 3057
Dr. Lori Roscoe
lroscoe@usf.edu

How we think about and react to death, dying, and end-of-life issues is a function of the ways in which we do, or do not, talk about them. This class will use case studies, personal narratives, news stories, and communication and ethics scholarship to explore how we talk about what is ethical or moral in end-of-life choices; how these decisions are functions of the culture, time and place in which they are discussed or take place; and how communication scholarship might serve as a point of advocacy and social change. We will read personal narratives including Knocking on Heaven’s Door (Katy Butler); Memoir of a Debulked Woman (Susan Gubar); and The Good Doctor: A Father, a Son, and the Evolution of Medical Ethics (Barron Lerner). We will discuss important historical cases in end-of-life and bioethics including Karen Ann Quinlan and Nancy Cruzan, and Terri Schiavo, who lived and died in the Tampa Bay area. We will read and analyze some of my work as well as current scholarship by other communication scholars who do research on end-of-life issues.

 

VI. SPC 6934:  Race and Ethnicity in Communication
W: 6.30 pm – 9.15 pm. CIS 3057
Dr. Aisha Durham
aishadurham@usf.edu

Race is a process of otherization and exoticization constructed to distribute resources and organize marked bodies within asymmetric power relations; similar to race, ethnicity describes a shared or distinct collective identification deployed by racial subjects to participate in cultural politics. The course will provide an overview of race and ethnicity as interdependent, overlapping analytic concepts that will help students understand how each is constituted, discursively framed, represented, performed, and policed within local and transnational contexts.
The course will be organized around a central theme: Past Presence. Its aim is twofold: (1) to contextualize contemporary constructions of identity within broader discussions of racial formation historically; and, (2) to explain research in race and ethnicity within a specific sociopolitical, intellectual and economic project. Intersectional perspectives hinging on relationality will privilege minoritized, diasporic bodies. Students will participate in graduate-led discussions about book-length analyses that include but are not limited to postrace, queer necropolitics, commodity fetishism, and racial mimicry and minstrelsy in media and culture.  
The course will draw from scholarship in the humanities and social sciences. No research background in this area is required. The course is intended to provide a deep engagement with race and ethnicity by attending to select topics that inform the interdisciplinary field of communication. Students enrolled in this course will gain professional training, considering students will perform peer reviews, write a book review, present abbreviated research findings, and submit a manuscript-ready paper draft by the end of the course.

 

VII. SPC 6934:  Writing Workshop
T: 2 pm – 4.45 pm. CIS 3057
Dr. Art Bochner
abochner@usf.edu

This course is an intense, concentrated writing workshop for Ph.D. and/or advanced M.A. level graduate students who want to strengthen and professionalize their writing abilities, habits, and credentials.  The assignments in the course seek to widen each student’s understanding of his or her own habituated patterns and practices of writing.  Course sessions will focus on achieving greater awareness of genres of scholarship, scholarly writing conventions and issues of style, voice, audience, story, and argument.  Our objective will be to better understand the commitments, dispositions, and work habits associated with successful academic writing.  Students enrolled in the course will be expected to maintain a rigorous writing regimen throughout the semester and to sharpen their skills at editing and critiquing the writing of other students.  By the second week of class, each student will identify a paper he or she has written as potentially publishable.  Students will “work” continuously on their papers in a workshop format over the course of the term, reacting to feedback from peer and instructor, editing and producing multiple drafts.  A “final draft” will be submitted on or near the last day of class.  The goal of the course is to learn what is expected of a publishable paper and to produce one.

 

 

Fall, 2014 Course Offerings in Communication

Doctoral Seminars (Fulfills PhD seminar requirement for Communication Doctoral Students)

COM 7933: ­ Globalization & Communication (Ambar Basu: Thurs, 2-4:45)

Globalization is not a trend, nor is it a fad. It¹s a system, and much like other systems that scaffold our world, it has its rules, rituals, culture, and logic. This course is founded on the notion that globalization refers not just to an actual process of meaning making, but also to a project of the same order, not just to fragments of reality but also to firmly established beliefs, values and flows of culture and capital. This course will discuss the concept of globalization as a political process and its implication for communication among different cultures. It will explore issues of power, identity and influence, and examine cultural encounters in the context of intersecting spaces, times, and meanings. Beginning with an examination of and a critique of recent literature and debates on the communication and globalization, the rise of networked societies, and international relations, members of the class will develop an understanding of the structure of the global political, economic, social, and cultural system(s). Additionally, and crucially, we will position the notion of globalization in the context of postcolonial theory in communication.

COM 7933: Narrative Inquiry (Arthur Bochner: Tues, 2-4:45)

This course focuses on the intellectual, philosophical, empirical, and pragmatic development of the turn toward narrative in the human sciences embodied by a virtual explosion of interest cutting across all of the humanities and social science disciplines including a wide range of historical, critical, cultural, philosophical, literary, rhetorical, cinematic, feminist, psychoanalytic, therapeutic, developmental, discursive, and linguistic studies of narrative and a huge corpus of significant works on storytelling within the fields of folklore and oral traditions. In this course, the main focus is on “the narrative fabric of the self,” what psychologist Mark Freeman has called “the poetic dimension of narrative,” reflecting each person’s human struggle to make language adequate to experience. The seminar sessions shall concentrate on the questions of narrative continuity and temporality, narrative truth, the ethnics of memory and its connection to personal narrative, canonical and non-canonical narratives, and various narrative practices and their connection to living life well. Students will write personal stories and listen and respond to the stories of others.

COM 6001: Introduction to Graduate Studies: Theories and Histories of Communication  (Lori Roscoe and Abraham Khan: Mon, 5-7:45) Required for all first-year students

This course explores the theory and history of the Communication discipline, with a particular focus on how the Department of Communication at the University of South Florida approaches our field.  We plan to focus your attention on what it means to study communication, particularly here, as compared, for example, to studying psychology, sociology, or anthropology.  What sort of idea or phenomenon is communication?  Why does communication matter?  How can the work we do under the rubric of communication help people lead better lives?  Should that be our goal?  One approach to these questions is to ask, what does communication do?  How is communication used and/or abused?  We want to give you a sense of how these questions are approached both in the discipline as a whole, and how they might be answered by our faculty.

We think that students of communication should have a sense of the history of the field, of the many diverse perspectives on the subject matter, and of the kinds of research, scholarship, writing, and performances that have characterized communication studies, and the relationships between communication theories and practices.  Thus, we want you to begin to think and talk about communication in various ways,  that is, as drama and performance, as interaction and  dialogue, as a means of organizing and constructing social realities, as empowering or disempowering, and as social activism—to name but a few.  

We will also focus on helping you to develop, improve and refine your reading and writing skills.  Reading and writing as communication scholars requires the development and practice of various habits and practices, some of which will work for you as you progress through graduate school, and some of which may be replaced by other techniques that are more useful to you.  In addition to discussing the content of required readings, we will focus on how these scholars craft and communicate their arguments and point of view through their writing.  We will also spend some time acquainting you with our library resources, expected reference styles, and developing your voice and focus as a scholarly writer.  

General Graduate Course Offerings

COM 7325: Qualitative Methods (Mariaelena Bartesaghi: Wed, 6:30-9:15)

From close looking at the world you can find things that you couldn’t by imagination, assert were there: One wouldn’t know that they were typical, one might not know that they ever happened and even if one supposed that they did one could not say it because an audience wouldn’t believe it.
Sacks, Lectures on Conversation, 1992
                             
In this course, you will experience, reflect on, and critically interrogate a set of naturalistic research approaches with particular attention to the methods used in ethnographic inquiry (participant observation and intensive interviews). Our time in class will be spent weaving the following three strands: (1) practical and analytic issues in the doing of naturalistic research, (2) ongoing data collection and analysis, and (3) affecting the necessary changes in how we approach what we are interested in studying as “data” and “field.” We will also pay careful attention to ethnographic writing in all its stages, from field notes, to transcription, to analysis and presentation of research findings.
My goal for this course is to challenge you to closer looking and sharper thinking. I would like to push you to do better – at least what I think is better. Frequent workshops will allow us to brainstorm ideas, hone or skills, and learn from each other.
I require, throughout, that you do three things, and that you do these well:
1. Do not ask questions to which you already (think you) know the answers.
2. Be humble.
3. Trust.

SPC 6934: Communication and Identity (Keith Berry: Tues, 6:30-9:15).

This course examines self-understanding and the constitution of subjectivity. We will draw on (auto)ethnographic, phenomenological, and queer approaches to explore how “identity” is lived, made, and negotiated within everyday relational/cultural contexts. This will include an investigation of established pathways of identity research, and the assumptions, expectations, and values that permeate the research and its researchers. Of particular interest are questions that explore what it looks like to study identity in especially reflexive, inclusive, and imaginative ways.

SPC 6934: Communicating Race and Racism (Navita James: Mon, 2-4:45)

This course examines constructions of race and racism in the United States and how these in turn are interrelated with constructions of identities, relationships, institutions, and public and mediated discourses.  Critical race theory, applied anti-racism, and pedagogical challenges and strategies related to teaching and leading public discussions on race and racism are among other topics considered.

SPC 6934: Power and Control in Organizations (Mahuya Pal: Wed, 2-4:45)

This graduate class in organizational communication addresses questions of
power and control that have endured since the rise of complex organizations in the late 19th century. The course aims to provide an understanding of the relationship between communication, power and control in organizations from different theoretical perspectives. We will take a multi-disciplinary approach to understand power and control in organizational contexts and read classic and contemporary theories in communication, management, sociology, and other fields. We will examine power and control as a mechanism that arises from the way work is organized, as a discursive phenomenon that delimits alternatives, and as a political phenomenon that sustains neocolonial interests between developed and developing nations. We will conclude the course with discussions of resistance since power is dialectically situated with resistance.

SPC 6934: Performing Human Rights (Serap Erincin: Thurs, 2-4:45)

Artistic and social performances about racial, ethnic, and gender inequalities and conflict, state oppression and violence, and other injustices bring visibility to the issues they address. Through works of dance, theatre, performative writing, media and performance art (broadly construed) and public demonstrations, artists and activists discuss and theorize human rights. In this seminar, we will engage with critical and philosophical texts that deal with human rights performances, especially those concerning disenfranchised populations. We will read authors who provide theoretical frameworks (e.g. Foucault, Brecht, Said, Chomsky), authors who pose global questions through case studies (e.g. Slyomovics, Taylor, Ellis, Elam), and authors who pursue thematic approaches (e.g. Kapchan, Muñoz, Conquergood) at the intersection of human rights and performance studies scholarship. We will also discuss performances, especially those by or about minorities and women, which highlight infringements of human rights. We will emphasize the transnational and crosscultural politics of such praxis as well as the relationship between social media, technology, and communication. Finally, participants will critically inquire into philosophical, political, or cultural questions through a work of their choosing. Alternatively, they may create a live, visual, literary or media performance and write an artist’s statement.

 

Spring, 2014 Course Offerings in Communication

Doctoral Seminars (Fulfills PhD seminar requirement for Communication Doctoral Students)

COM 7933: Politics of Mental Health (also open to MA students in Communication) (Mariaelena Bartesaghi: Tues., 2-4:45).

This doctoral  seminar will likely challenge your ideas about mental illness as a state of the psychological “mind” or biological “brain.”  We will explore mind and mental health critically as a political construct  -- born of psychiatric claims, patient narratives, psy-complex intertexts, popular depictions in movies and novels, economic forces, institutional arrangements, and cultural stereotypes. Though we are ourselves participants in creating mental illness in our everyday languaging, our task in this class will be to examine how its definitions, experiences and, indeed, its very existence, are continuously (re)produced, and perhaps reified – that is, made real – in social  discourse about it.

SPC6934 Kenneth Burke and Critical Thought  (also open to MA students in Communication) (David Payne: Wed., 6:30- 9:15). 

This is a reading and discussion seminar in the major works of Kenneth Burke.   Burke’s writings spanned over 60 years, from the 1920s-1980s, stimulating aesthetic theory, social theory, semiotics, and critical theory.  His work was a major force in shaping dramaturgy and ethnomethodology in Sociology, rhetorical theory and criticism in Speech Communication, and pragmatics in literary criticism.  He was an American public intellectual regarded as a highly original thinker who anticipated current developments in postmodern thinking, cultural studies, and critical theory, while rehabilitating and restating the centrality of aesthetics, ethics, and rhetoric as meaningful orientations to social and political life.

COM 7933: PhD Seminar: Framing and Sensemaking (Jane Jorgenson: Mon., 2-4:45)

Central to this communication theory course are questions about how people respond to ambiguity, how they reach common understandings or a “working consensus” about the events they encounter in social life. The earliest discussion of framing is usually attributed to the anthropologist, Gregory Bateson, whose work explores such topics as learning, play, fantasy, and humor. In this class we will address questions about the role of framing in interpretation (how frames emerge as structures of expectation, how they transform, how they dissolve) through writings by Bateson, Goffman and others. Sensemaking refers to a related strand of ideas influenced by cognitive dissonance theory and ethnomethodology, and provides a perspective for thinking about how individuals engage in retrospective analysis of experience. As part of the class, we will consider how ideas of framing and sensemaking have entered the worlds of professional practice (for example in domains as teaching and family therapy).

 

General Graduate Course Offerings

SPC 6934: Studies in Communication and Culture (Aisha Durham: Thurs: 2-4:45)

The course will provide an opportunity for students to become familiar with major theoretical frameworks and methodological approaches in communication and cultural studies to understand contemporary social life. The course will be organized around four key areas in communication and cultural studies: Power, Representation, Identity, and Experience. These areas will anchor graduate-led discussion and text-based, independent research about a cultural product, process, performance, or practice represented in commercial media. British and American cultural studies traditions that blend the popular with sustained analyses of structure will be emphasized, and comparative, intersectional perspectives privileging minoritized, diasporic bodies will be integrated. We will read excerpts about the key areas from canonical work alongside more contemporary and focused, book-length discussions to map the trajectory of the field and to address the implications of cultural studies as a political-intellectual project today.  Other than our key areas, we will cover a range of topics from consumer capitalism, cultural citizenship to postfeminism. Each course section will elucidate the interrelationship between the state, economy, and civil society, and the course as a whole will provide the language and the lens to examine the dynamic ways citizens, consumers, and social actors make meaning or make sense of our world.

The course is intended to provide an introduction to cultural studies, and it is structured to provide practical professional training considering students will perform peer paper reviews, present abbreviated research findings, and submit a draft of a journal-ready manuscript by the end of the course.

SPC 6934: Emotions, Trauma, and Intimate Interviewing (Carolyn Ellis Wed: 5-7:45)

            This course will focus on the emotions connected with the experience of trauma stemming from everyday disruption to horrifying individual and collective events.    We will attempt to understand trauma—how it is communicated, experienced, written, and told. We will be interested in how people cope with and heal from trauma as well as how we live with and experience stresses of everyday life.  One particular focus will be on survivors and their testimony about their experience in the Holocaust, an extraordinary, senseless, tragic, and large-scale experience of suffering  outside the bounds of “normal,” one that is in so many ways “unspeakable,” and even “unthinkable.”  Another will be on day-to-day anxieties that we all experience.
We will explore intimate interviewing (or collaborative interviewing/witnessing)  as an approach useful for speaking with victims of trauma; secondarily, we will have the opportunity, if we want, to interpreting our own traumas and write with others. While I have not decided about the projects in class, it is possible that students might write their own stories and then interview someone else who has had a similar experience and experiment with interactive interviewing or relational autoethnography. Or you might choose to interview two people, or conduct a focus group of folks who have had similar traumatic experiences where you take the position of reflexive and involved researcher.  We will spend time discussing the ethics of doing research with others and writing our own stories.  I will expect you to pass the online course for doing research with human subjects, though you will not be expected to seek IRB approval during this class while doing this exploratory project (unless this is part of your research for your dissertation or thesis).
Even with this content, this class will not be all gloom and doom. I expect one of the outcomes to be that we become more aware of the importance of living as well and fully as possible in our day-to-day lives, which can be enhanced by reflecting on the past and future, viewing and analyzing our lives in relation to the lives of others and in the context of the larger world in which we live. To live fully requires us to acknowledge, yet not be overwhelmed by, the presence of trauma, loss, and disruption. To live fully requires hope, commitment, and engagement.  Additionally, I think this kind of investigation can make us better human beings, able to empathize with others’ suffering and perhaps better understand our own. I also hope this class will make us more sensitive and ethical researchers who see improving our lives and the lives of others as one of our research goals.

SPC 6214: Advanced Ethnography (Chaim Noy: Mon., 6:30-9:15)

Ethnography is one of the most interesting and inspiring human endeavors to be thought of and proposed by scholarly thought. This course is dedicated to getting students acquainted with the power and potential of ethnographic practices, and with the sensibilities, skills, and sensitivities involved in carrying out informed and thoughtful ethnographies. This is a ‘hands-on’, where we develop and enrich skills of observation, participation and documentation of ethnographable social scenes. The class will move from reviewing the history and development of ethnography, through the ‘crisis of representation’ in the 1980s, to contemporary trends and possible future trajectories. While during the course we will cover an array of themes, topics and concepts – addressing both new and old environments of and for ethnography, we will focus on the inter-relationship between ethnography and communication (keeping in mind that ethnography is itself a communicative practice), on ethnography and performance theory, on critical trends in and of ethnography, and embodied ethnography. Other issues that we will inquire into are ethnography in and as everyday life and virtual and cyber ethnographies.

ORI 6456: Performance Theory (Chris McRae: Thurs., 6:30-9:15)

In this course, we will survey performance theories, methods, and histories within the communication discipline. In particular we will consider the ways contemporary performance studies scholars and artists use performance as a metaphor, a method of inquiry, and subject of analysis in the study of human communication. In this survey of scholarship, we will explore theories, enduring questions, and methods of inquiry that broadly shape and inform performance studies. The overarching goal of this course is to introduce and consider the ways performance studies functions as a dynamic and critical mode of inquiry in communication studies.

Note: This is a reading and performance intensive class. You need not be an experienced performer to succeed in the class.

 

SPC 6726: Communication in Close Relationships (Art Bochner: Tues., 5-7:45)

This course focuses on the interpersonal and intersubjective processes involved in the development of close personal relationships, bonds that are deep, personal, intimate, and enduring.  In the course, we try to grasp what people mean when they talk about being “in love,” “falling in love,” being “lovesick” and so on.  We ask, what does love mean?  To what does it commit a person?  In what sense is the capacity to love and be loved associated with skillful communication?  Can someone learn to love?  What is the connection between love and sexuality, love and spirituality, love and language?   How do the narratives that circulate through our culture in the forms of film, popular music, literature, and fairy tale influence how we codify and understand our own constructions of ourselves as lover and/or beloved?  We also focus on the functions of communication over the course of a close and intimate relationship.  What brings people together into a loving relationship in the first place?  What keeps them together over months, years, or decades?   How can we better understand and cope with the contradictions and conflicts that arise over the course of a relationship?  What makes some love connections work while others fall apart?  Although our main focus will be on communication, we will look at close relationships from historical, sociological, psychological, and cultural points of view as well, and we will place considerable emphasis on the emotional and erotic dimensions of loving relationships. 

 

Fall 2013

COM 6001: Theories and Histories of Communication (Jane Jorgenson and David Payne - Mon. 6:20-9:05)

The course is designed to offer a conceptual and historical orientation to the some of the enduring questions and research traditions that comprise our field.  We will explore what it means to study communication as compared, for example, to studying psychology, sociology, or anthropology.  What sort of idea or phenomenon is communication?  Why does communication matter?  How can the work we do under the rubric of communication help people lead better lives?  One approach to these questions is to ask, what does communication do?  How is communication used and/or abused?

COM 7933: PhD Seminar in Ethics (Lori Roscoe – Tues., 2-4:45)

This PhD seminar will have three parts.  Part One will explore communication ethics through writings and interviews with influential scholars in the field, including Ron Arnett (our Communication Day Grazier Lecturer this April), and Michael J. Hyde (former Grazier Lecturer).  Part Two will focus on the history of research ethics, and we will discuss the infamous ethical abuses of Tuskegee, Milgram and other nefarious cases, as well as the current protections such as Internal Review Boards (IRBs).  Part Three will focus on ethics in health care settings, and we will read Richard Zaner and others who interrogate the ethical principles and frameworks that guide the professional ethics of physicians and other health care providers, that protect the rights of patients, and that serve as guideposts for healthcare reform and policy making.

COM 7933: PhD Seminar in Communication and Resistance (Mahuya Pal – Thurs, 2-4:45)

Drawing upon postcolonial studies, this seminar aims to engage in critical debates about the role of communication in the realms of participation, democracy, civil society, and social change in a neoliberal context. The study of the combinations of micro and macro-level communication processes presented in this course will provide theoretical and pragmatic insights regarding the ways in which cultural, social, and political systems go through change.

The primary objectives of this seminar will include:

Developing an understanding of political, cultural, economic, and social system(s) that create conditions of marginalization

  • Analyzing the local in the context of the global that offers opportunities of change
  • Understanding the dialectical relationship between power and resistance
  • Studying resistance as a communicative process in multiple realms
  • Understanding the politics of knowledge production
  • Examining academy as a point of praxis for change

SPC 6934: Democracy, Citizenship, and the Public Sphere (Abe Khan – Wed, 2-4:45)

If we accept the proposition that our field can trace its disciplinary origins to ancient Greece, then it has always been concerned with the issues associated with democracy, citizenship, and the formation of public spaces. This course aims to trace the various ways in which the study of communication has treated these topics as problems. Our basic question is this: How do theory and practice propose that symbolic action shapes political action, modes of citizenship, and forms of public life? In short, how does communication make politics possible? We will begin with the ancient rhetorical tradition and proceed quickly to modernity, whereupon our topics will include but not be limited to:

  1. critical media theory (how do the media influence democratic processes?)
  2. the formation of “public opinion,” (what is that strange creature?)
  3. identity-based - e.g. class, race, gender - political exclusion (who gets to participate and why?)
  4. democratic theory (what is democracy? what does it, or should it, look like?)
  5. public culture (how do publics act?)
  6. counterpublics (in what ways can publics be oppositional?)
  7. deliberative democracy (how do we argue in public?)
  8. the processes of consensus formation (how do we come to agree?)
  9. governmentality (what did Foucault have to say?)
  10. the possibility of performative citizenship (how might we “do” citizenship?)

 

This course addresses itself to students interested the ways that communication studies produces social and political theory, students of the mass media concerned for their relation to politics, students of rhetoric and public address, students concerned with the formation and/or division of public space, and students interested in social and political identity. Though we will dwell in textual research, students wishing to engage qualitative or ethnographic final projects are welcome. Readings will include but not be limited to: Plato’s Gorgias, Aristotle’s Rhetoric, Dewey’s The Public and its Problems, Lippman’s Public Opinion, Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent, selections from Foucault on governmentality, Habmermas’s The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, Laclau’s On Populist Reason, Warner’s Publics and Counterpublics, and selections from Judith Butler on performativity.

 

SYA 6205: Social Construction of Reality (Art Bochner – Mon, 2-4:45)

This course focuses on the development of the idea of social construction as it has evolved in the fields of communication, sociology, social psychology, anthropology, education, philosophy, and cognitive science.  The course emphasizes the consequences of understanding lived experiences and their discursive representations as social constructions.  By focusing on consequences, our attention is drawn to the practices of social construction, that is, how we are all practitioners in the creation of social and cultural life.  We ask: What kind of social life do we want to create?  How can we use social construction to create a world in which we want to live?  Social construction also points us to contentious accounts of the real, that is, of reality.  In this course, we will seek a measure of clarity regarding what social constructions are and the point one is making when claiming that a concept or idea such as “race” or “gender” is (or is not) socially constructed.  We will likely look at other such ideas sometimes regarded as social constructions such as depression, child abuse, and sexual harassment.  All students enrolled in the course are expected to participate in an original research project that emphasizes construction of social reality.

COM 7325: Critical Methods (Rachel Dubrofsky – Tues, 6:20-9:05)

The aim of the course is to explore ways of doing critical scholarship in communication, and to foster the practice of critical thinking and research.  Rather than take a historical or survey approach, we will focus on how to ask critical questions by looking at the current work of a few critical scholars.

Critical scholarship is political and active, foregrounding theory as a means of meaningful intervention.  Broadly speaking, this type of scholarship investigates dominant and hegemonic power, challenging that which is seen to produce objectionable power relations.  This work often deals with identity issues—for instance, class, race, sexuality, gender—and their implication in power dynamics.  The theories and methods vary depending on the object of study and the research questions, which means the work is often interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary. 

A critical approach necessitates viewing every body of knowledge with skepticism, always attempting to understand the way it functions, how it emerges, and how it comes to make sense.  Part of the task of critical scholarship is to challenge underlying assumptions, to make these visible, including those implicated in our own research methods, theories and praxis. 

A critical approach is committed to seeing each issue as particular, contingent, and contextual. This means issues are unique, and related to other issues, only making sense when placed in the context in which they emerge and when understood as emerging from a specific history.

COM 7325: Qualitative Methods (Ambar Basu – Wed, 6:20-9:05)

This course is an introduction to qualitative research methods ­ conceptualization, design, and data collection procedures and analyses ­ in communication studies. The course includes a description of the politics, ethics, and the paradigms in qualitative research design,
interpretation, and writing. The course also aims to provide students with an introduction
to techniques used in several aspects of doing qualitative research. Course readings will come from sub-disciplines in communication as well as other disciplines.
Students are expected to:
- learn about qualitative methods and communication research
- learn how to design a qualitative study
- become familiar with the multitude of techniques and strategies used to
conduct rigorous qualitative research
- practice conducting qualitative research
- learn about the ethics and politics of doing qualitative research


Spring 2013

COM 7933: Autoethnography (Tues. 2-4:45) Carolyn Ellis (PhD seminar)

Autoethnography: research, writing, story, and method that connect the autobiographical and personal to the cultural, social, and political. In autoethnography, the researcher’s life, interactions with others, and group and cultural membership become a conscious part of what is studied. In the last two decades, qualitative researchers—from realists to impressionist writers—have begun to position themselves in their research and include themselves as participants in their interview and ethnographic studies of others. Likewise, autoethnography projects that focus directly on the research and personal experiences of the author have burgeoned.
This class will explore definitions and history of autoethnographic inquiry, contextualizing autoethnography within qualitative methods and narrative theory, in relation to memoir, and at the intersection of social science and literature. We will concentrate on writing as a method of inquiry. We will look at the different ways our scholarship might incorporate autoethnography, for example, as personal narrative, reflexive or narrative ethnography, indigenous ethnography, complete member tales, cultural autoethnography, ethnographic memoirs, and intimate journalism, among others. We will examine forms in which autoethnography might be presented, such as ethnographic accounts, analytic autoethnography, short stories, poetry, performance, documentaries, songs, and art. Autoethnography can be employed as method in multiple ways, including systematic personal introspection, reflexive interviews, interactive interviews, coconstructed narratives, and friendship as method. A focus of the class will be autoethnographic practices and issues, such as writing field notes, emotional recall, capturing experience, memory, truth, therapeutic aspects of this research, and ethics in writing about intimate others. Additionally, we will examine concerns in revising and revisioning our work, and in taking research to the community, to participants, and to journals.  
As we explore these ideas, we also will read about and practice narrative expression (including how to write emotionally, vulnerably, and evocatively), narrative techniques (such as writing dialogue, scenes, internal monologues, developing characters and plot), and analytic writing (including using appropriate literatures and framing our pieces conceptually).  Each student will do several short papers and a final project that includes personal narrative, which may focus on something in your life, be written from an interview as a relational autoethnography that focuses on your interaction with other participants, or position yourself as a researcher in a research project.


COM 7933: Surveillance (Thurs., 2-4:45) Rachel Dubrofsky (PhD seminar)

This course will take a critical approach to the analysis of surveillance practices and technologies. Implicit in most understandings of surveillance is the idea of real people being watched, often unknowingly, doing real things. The term “surveillance” is generally used to refer to a systematic and focused manner of observing. It has also been theorized as an internalized system of discipline whereby people come to police themselves. Other useful descriptions of surveillance look at its broad aims, as decentralized (rather than as a singular Big Brother), with the purpose of gathering information. Critical surveillance studies emphasizes practices of surveillance as producing knowledge, examining how surveillance discourses both are produced by, and produce identities (racialized, gendered, sexualized, and classed, for instance), spaces, communities, and institutions. This course will think through the implications of surveillance, looking at the relationship between surveillance and substantive forms of inequality, exploring what is at stake in current surveillance practices in terms of issues of disenfranchisement and oppression. Rather than determine specific methods and theories for analyzing surveillance, we will work on developing questions that can provide insight into this topic, forefronting an agenda that challenges and problematizes critical issues.

SPC 6214: Ethnography of Communication (Mon. 6:20-9:05) Chaim Noy

Ethnography of Communication (EoC) is a methods class that seeks to introduce students to the study of communication processes and sites where communication transpires via ethnographic methods. EoC mainly concerns the study of language interaction and use in particular settings and in real-life everyday occasions and contexts. We will begin with the study of the history of EoC, tracing back to the works of Dell Hymes during the 1960s, and to his proposition to study speaking activities ethnographically. Nowadays various types of communicative interactions are studied under the umbrella term, EoC, and these share an emphasis on accurate description of linguistic features of interaction, on mediation processes, on the social and cultural aspects of communication, and on how the participants themselves describe and use communication. During the course of the semester we will conduct EoC research projects in everyday settings, ranging from family interactions at homes, short exchanges in public spaces (grocery stores), to encounters in institutions and in ceremonial events. These communicative sites and events will help us learn a few of the main EoC concepts including communicative competence, speech communities, communicative functions and more.


COM 6306: Action Research (Mon., 2-4:45). Fred Steier

Action research, defined as a “participatory, democratic process concerned with developing practical knowing in the pursuit of worthwhile human purposes, grounded in a participatory worldview (Reason and Bradbury, Handbook of Action Research, 2006) is a methodology rooted in engagement. It has been characterized as offering a possibility and a strategy for “revitalizing the social sciences, the University, and the American City” (Puckett and Harkavy, The Action Research Tradition in the United States, 1999).  This course will focus on learning about the theory and practice of action research, including communication and relational issues involved in all phases of an action research project. Rather than just reading about action research, we will learn about its practice by immersing ourselves in an action research project, learning by doing. We will work as teams with a community-based organization(s) in areas with which they are concerned and with themes that matter to them and to us. We will focus in particular on questions concerning ways of knowing generated by action research, and will explore how other cultures of inquiry fit with action research. 


SPC 6934: Cultural Production of Space and Time (Thurs., 6:20-9:05). Michael LeVan

The concepts of space, time, and subjectivity converge in this seminar in an effort to more deeply understand and problematize the quotidian nature of experience, technology, meaning, and consciousness enveloping contemporary cultural life. In an era in which relationships, work (including academic work), politics, community, and memory are increasingly experienced under conditions of rapid acceleration, the experiential role of space and time (what Immanuel Kant defined as the two elements of the Transcendental Aesthetic) can become confounded and confounding. For communication scholars, we want to see how the traditional constraints of space and time are destabilized, creating contemporary challenges in relation to close relationships, notions of home and nation, and the circulation of images, identities, and ideologies. Drawing from a range of theoretical, historical, and aesthetic texts, our aim is to critically examine how people imagine, create, resist, destroy, wander through, and give shape to the material, aesthetic, and political terrains of contemporary life. This seminar is designed to bring a philosophical style of looking and listening to communication inquiry, and should be edifying for any specialty area of research. Readings will include work by such theorists as Peter Sloterdijk, Elizabeth Grosz, Paul Virilio, Arjun Appadurai, Gilles Deleuze, Gaston Bachelard, and Henri Lefebvre.


SPC 6934: Cultural Perspectives on Health Communication (Wed. 6:20-9:05) Ambar Basu

The discipline of Communication, like any other academic field of inquiry, is an inherently political enterprise. Interrogations on power, dominance, inequality, and resistance should be and are at the core of any academic enterprise. This course is founded on such interrogations. As we tackle global and local topics of interest in health, such as hunger, substance abuse, and HIV/AIDS, we locate how communication creates opportunities for questioning the inevitable and taken-for-granted and provides opportunities for participating in social change. The willingness and the intent to make positive changes in society as a precursor to the process of building healthy cities, healthy villages and healthy neighborhoods bring us together in this course. Into this mix, we throw in the notion of culture and its numerous conceptualizations. Culture becomes a nodal point for discussing the processes and outcomes of sense-making Around illness, suffering, violence, sexuality, body politics, substance abuse, marginalization, food and sex ­ all within the framework of health and well being. Organized around fundamental questions such as, how culture constructs health and illness and how communicative practices vary across cultures, this course seeks to understand health communication from a cultural perspective. This course explores the theory and history of Communication Studies. The course is designed to offer a conceptual and historical orientation to the some of the enduring questions and research traditions that comprise our field.  We will explore what it means to study communication as compared, for example, to studying psychology, sociology, or anthropology.  What sort of idea or phenomenon is communication?  Why does communication matter?  How can the work we do under the rubric of communication help people lead better lives?  One approach to these questions is to ask, what does communication do?  How is communication used and/or abused?


SPC 6934: Feminist Spirituality (Wed., 2-4:45). Navita James

Feminist Spirituality explores the ways women experience, construct, and write about women's spirituality.  Several "pathways" to women's spirituality are considered including (1) major world religions and the experiences of women within those religious traditions (including resisting perceived and/or real patriarchy); (2) the exploration and rediscovery of the “Divine Feminine” both within and outside of major world religions; and (3) new and alternative pathways that women are creating alone and in newly constructed communities of faith.  Within these pathways, the course also addresses women's spirituality in terms of women's identities, the construction of women in sacred texts and language; women's sexuality; women's relationships with each and with men; womanism, ecofeminism, and spirituality over the life course.


Fall 2012

COM 6001: Theories and Histories of Communication (Mon. 6:20-9:05) Lori Roscoe and Abe Khan

This course explores the theory and history of Communication Studies. The course is designed to offer a conceptual and historical orientation to the some of the enduring questions and research traditions that comprise our field. We will explore what it means to study communication as compared, for example, to studying psychology, sociology, or anthropology. What sort of idea or phenomenon is communication? Why does communication matter? How can the work we do under the rubric of communication help people lead better lives? One approach to these questions is to ask, what does communication do? How is communication used and/or abused?

COM 7933: Narrative Inquiry (Thurs. 2-4:45) Arthur Bochner

This course focuses on the intellectual, philosophical, empirical, and pragmatic development of the turn toward narrative in the human sciences embodied by a virtual explosion of interest cutting across all of the humanities and social science disciplines including a wide range of historical, critical, cultural, philosophical, literary, rhetorical, cinematic, feminist, psychoanalytic, therapeutic, developmental, discursive, and linguistic studies of narrative and a huge corpus of significant works on storytelling within the fields of folklore and oral traditions. In this course, the main focus is on “the narrative fabric of the self,” what psychologist Mark Freeman has called “the poetic dimension of narrative,” reflecting each person’s human struggle to make language adequate to experience. The seminars sessions shall concentrate on the questions of narrative continuity and temporality, narrative truth, the ethics of memory and its connection to personal narrative, canonical and non-canonical narratives, and various narrative practices and their connection to living life well. Students will write personal stories and listen and respond to the stories of others

SPC 7933: Language, Mind and Society (Tues. 2-4:45) Mariaelena Bartesaghi

First of all do [not] worry about whether [participants are] ‘thinking’. Just try to come to terms with how it is that the thing comes off. Because you’ll find that they can do these things with remarkable immediacy such that they couldn’t have thought that fast…Look to see how it is that persons go about producing what they do produce.
(Sacks, "Lectures on Conversation," 1992, p. 11)

What might sociologist’s Harvey Sacks’ observation mean for communication? And what should we worry is going on in communication if we are not to worry about participants’ “thinking”? How are we to interpret what communication means, signifies or represents? And what of our concerns with intention, cognition, psychological workings, and mind? This seminar invites an investigation of these questions by exploring the connection between language and mind, in biological, cultural, and psychological contexts. By reading Chomsky, Whorf, Lakoff, Cameron, Jaynes, work in discursive psychology and social interaction, we will then move to interrogate the very nature of categories such as biology, culture, and psychology as everyday pragmatic accomplishments, and explore language, mind, and social interaction as essentially visible dynamics of practical action. What you take away is of course up to you; I hope we will raise interesting questions, and, like Sacks, assuage some old worries about communication in novel ways.

COM 6121 Organizational Communication (Thurs. 6:20-9:05) Mahuya Pal

The course provides an introduction to theory and research on human communication in complex organizations, including the communicative impact of organizations on the broader society. The survey of perspectives includes images of communication from the perspective of interpretive, critical, postmodern, postcolonial, and subaltern approaches to the study of organizational communication. While engaging with the dominant concepts in the field, the course aims to raise important critical questions about the role of the organization in neoliberal politics. The second half of the course will interrogate the rhetoric of modernity and the logic of coloniality that informs the field. We will conclude by studying recent scholarships that call for de-colonizing organization studies from the hegemony of management to account for studies of subaltern organizing. In sum, we will read the dominant theories and cutting-edge scholarship in organizational communication in the first half, and conclude by exploring new ways of thinking of organizational communication in the context of contemporary global politics in the second half.

COM 7325: Qualitative methods (Tues. 5:20-8:05) Ambar Basu

This course is an introduction to qualitative research methods – conceptualization, design, and data collection procedures and analyses – in communication studies. The course includes a description of the politics, ethics, and the paradigms in qualitative research design, interpretation, and writing. The course also aims to provide students withan introduction to techniques used in several aspects of doing qualitative research. Course readings will come from sub-disciplines in communication as well as other disciplines.

Students are expected to:
- learn about qualitative methods and communication research
- learn how to design a qualitative study
- become familiar with the multitude of techniques and strategies used to conduct rigorous qualitative research
- practice conducting qualitative research
- learn about the ethics and politics of doing qualitative research

COM 6345: Contemporary Cultural Studies (Wed. 6:20-9:05) Garnet Butchart

The future haunts cultural studies. It began as a heady intellectual enterprise, informed by modern movements in European philosophy, and devoted to analysis of the cultural forms, practices, and industries of societies in the West. Its aim, most scholars working in this tradition believed, was to gradually transform the social through expert critique of the structures and institutions through which it was represented and lived as real. To that end, the areas of inquiry in cultural studies were diverse, spanning literature, music, the visual arts, as well as the media of mass communications. However, today most cultural studies scholars have grown weary of the burden placed upon “culture” as the instrument of wide-ranging political transformation, transformation that happens much less often in the streets and in classrooms than it does in the courts and corporate boardrooms. For that reason, the question that defines (or, haunts) cultural studies is no longer what should it be, but rather, what can it do—the ethics of cultural studies. With that question in mind, the course begins with a brief intellectual history of cultural studies in the United States, paying specific attention to the importance of “French theory” to its formation and to the logic of capital as its primary, early object of analysis. Moving on from the past, we will read a selection of recently published and widely discussed research devoted to “digital culture,” exploring its intellectual roots, the problem of digital media regulation, and the eclipse of “identity” by machinery that produces information bubbles. The final third of the course will be devoted to the contemporary preoccupation with memory, archive, and testimony, three themes that permeate some of the most provocative, critical philosophy and literature devoted to the experience of late modern culture. Readings will be selected from authors such as Lawrence Grossberg, François Cusset, Giovanni Arrighi, Charlie Gere, Eli Pariser, Lawrence Lessig, Giorgio Agamben, Cornelia Vismann, and others.

SPC 6934 Family Communication (Monday 2-4:45) Jane Jorgenson

This course takes as a point of departure the idea that families are creations of their members’ communication: that in its day-to-day interactions, a family creates a “symbolic universe” as its members negotiate meaning, selfhood, and relationships. We begin the course by considering family itself as a term understood through cultural and historical lenses, including for example, changing assumptions about gender, childhood, and related constructs. We will then explore the conceptual foundations of family communication growing out of Gregory Bateson’s process ontology. This perspective emphasizes pattern and redundancy (the “dance”) of daily interaction and the importance of the phatic, implicit, or “meta” in relationships. We will also consider some ways in which family relationships are offered to the outside world as ritual and symbolic forms, for example in weddings, funerals, and family photography to name just a few. Students will apply what they learn during the semester toward designing their own research projects.

COM 7900: Doctoral Research Tutorial

This course is open to students who have advanced to candidacy (completed the qualifying exam) and involves supervised research leading to the dissertation proposal.


Spring 2012

COM 7325: Critical Methods (Monday, 6:20-9:05) David Payne

Critical Methods is intended to be a survey of major approaches, concepts, and readings that comprise the history and practice of critical scholarship in communication. The goals of the course are threefold: 1. To familiarize students with the traditional literatures of critical methodology, especially as it has influenced communication research; 2. To promote understanding of key concepts and methodological issues that have shaped and sponsored critical thinking and scholarship in communication; and 3. To encourage critical thinking and writing through examples and assignments that explore and apply these concepts and approaches to critical scholarship.

COM 7933: Interpretive Social Science -PhD Seminar (Thursday, 5:15-8:00): Art Bochner

This course focuses on the Enlightenment dilemma that we still face today: How are we to reconcile science with the larger designs of human life? How can the human sciences be humanly (and morally) significant? Grounding the course on what some philosophers and social scientists have called “the interpretive turn” in the human sciences, I focus attention on the practical and historically situated nature of human inquiry introduced by Vico in the 18th and Dilthey in the 19th century. In the course we shall focus on both historical and practical issues relating to the origins and development of the human sciences and revolving around the changing contours of the ideas of “truth” and “method in the 20th century; and the pseudo conflict between quantitative and qualitative research. We shall take up Kuhn’s critique of the building-block model of science and how scientific paradigms evolve and change; Mead’s symbolic interactionism and theory of the self; Geertz’s interpretive anthropology and Denzin’s interpretive ethnography; Berger and Luckmann’s social construction of knowledge; feminist standpoint theory; Gergen, Gergen, and Conquergood’s notions of an embodied social science as performance; Bateson’s communication theory and relationality; and Bruner and Freeman’s narrative construction of identity. The course seeks to provide students with an understanding of how the human sciences may be better understood as committed to moral discourses aimed at social justice and the good life.

COM 7933: Communication and Community -PhD Seminar (Wednesday, 2-4:50) Fred Steier

This course will cultivate an understanding of the intersection between communication and the creation and sustainability of community. We will explore community in many senses, from the geographical/spatial sense of community, as a place where we live, work, and play together, to the “virtual” sense of community afforded by new information and communication technologies (ICT’s) to senses of communities as ways of being together afforded by our practice – our communities of practice. We will explore conceptions and designs of community rooted in American culture, but we will also explore other cultural perspectives on what “makes” for community. To this end, we will look at entailments of the idea of community, including social capital, social networks, and rituals of performance, from multiple perspectives.

In addition, we will explore communities as living systems. As such, we will look at how communities create ways of sustaining themselves, and balance identity and tradition with change and transformation in the face of changing environments. Here ecological questions of adaptation, resilience and sustainability will be foregrounded. We will look at the ways that communities may balance individualism and collectivism, while engaging in the creation of their/our own sustainable futures. Other questions, including how new technologies may alter the landscape and soundscape of our “face-to-face” communities, will also be explored

SPC 6934: Communication in Marginalization and Health (Wednesday, 6:30-9:05): Ambar Basu

This course will explore the intersections of culture, marginalization and health, paying particular attention to understanding those meaning making processes and outcomes that constitute localized narrations on health at the margins of society. The approach to culture proposed in the course will seek to elucidate those elements of the local context that are dynamic and contribute to how communities living on the peripheries of modernity articulate how health materializes and is made sense of, often offering a resistive potential to what we, in the dominant discourse, are comfortable with knowing/deciding what health communication is and should be. Ultimately, the course will offer entry points for engaging in critical debates about the role of communication is creating, sustaining and challenging structures of deprivation and inequity in the realm of health and well being. We will relate health communication to a canvas of issues such as poverty, inaccess, race, class, development, transnational feminism, food security, war over water, and drug testing in the “third world.”

SPC 6934: Critical Media Studies (Tuesday 2-4:45): Rachel Dubrofsky

We will take a critical cultural studies approach to the analysis of media texts. Critical scholarship is political and active, foregrounding theory as a means of meaningful intervention. Broadly speaking, critical scholarship investigates dominant and hegemonic power, challenging that which is seen to produce objectionable power relations. The course will highlight critical feminist and race scholarship relevant to the study of media, with an emphasis on developing questions that can provide insight into media texts, forefronting an agenda that challenges and problematizes critical issues—for instance, ideas about race, gender, class and sexuality.

SPC 6728: Communicating Illness, Grief, and Loss (Tuesday, 5:15-8:00): Carolyn Ellis

Human beings make sense of their experiences through hearing and telling stories. When illness, trauma, and loss occur, our stories of self are disrupted and new ones must be constructed or old ones revived. As Arthur Frank points out, we learn new stories by hearing ourselves tell others what happened to us, experiencing how they take in our stories, listening to their responses, and comparing our experience to the stories we know of others’ illnesses and losses. This is what we will do in this class: tell and write our stories and listen to and read others’ stories of illness, disruption, and loss.

This class will encourage us to cultivate the ability to read illness and loss narratives within a dialectic of intimacy and distance. As we read, watch, hear, and discuss stories, we will move back and forth between being in the immediacy and concreteness of the story--the physical body, emotional experience, and cognitive details; to considering how a story relates to our own lives--experienced, imagined, or foretold; to examining the rhetorical and social aspects of the story as told; to analyzing cultural patterns in illness and loss stories. We will concentrate on “thinking with stories,” which as Frank explains, means to take the story as already complete, “to experience it affecting one’s own life and to find in that effect a certain truth of one’s life.” Secondarily, we will think about stories, which means to analyze their content and think about what they mean and what they can teach us. Illness and loss stories reveal particular experiences to readers; they also communicate details of everyday life, negotiations in romantic relationships, underpinnings of families, and the roles of institutions and culture. These stories often "cut through the surface," probing deeply and honestly into important questions regarding living meaningful and fulfilling lives. Thus, this course will deal with the whole of life, and not just illness and loss.

SPC6934: Discourse analysis: (Thursday, 2-4:45) Mariaelena Bartesaghi

Taking talk as social action, discourse analysis (DA) examines talk and text as interconnected matrices of institutional and social order. DA is social and cultural critique from the inside out. Weaving between theoretical considerations and data sessions, and empirical claims and social and critical theory, this course will teach you to collect and transcribe your own data, identify discourse strategies, learn to argue for what is interesting, and arrive at a persuasive analysis of discourse dynamics. I encourage ongoing projects and questions on health and education, narrative analysis, psychological and medical questionnaires, organizational texts, interviews as a topic of study, disability and much more.

SPC 6934: Global women of Color (Thursday 6:20-9:05) Manoucheka Celeste

This course will engage with the scholarship of women of color scholars in thinking about race, class, gender, and sexuality. Paying particular attention to the relationship between representation and materiality, we will consider the works and experiences of women of color across topics including media and popular culture, immigration, globalization, colonialism, the state, and academia. We will pay particular attention to scholars of U.S. “Third World”, Borderland, Caribbean and South Asian feminisms in addition to the works that students bring into the class as we continually ask the question, “What is the relationship between women of color feminisms and globality?”

COM 7900: Doctoral Research Tutorial

This course is open to students who have advanced to candidacy (completed the qualifying exam) and involves supervised research leading to the dissertation proposal.


Fall 2011

COM 7933: Dialogue (Doctoral Seminar), Dr. Ken Cissna

Dialogue is a dimension of human life that focuses more on mutuality and relationship than on self-interest, is more concerned with discovering than disclosing, and is more interested in access than domination. Dialogue implies more than a simple back-and-forthness of message exchange; it points to a particular process and quality of communication in which the participants "meet," which allows for changing and being changed. In dialogue, we do not know exactly what we are going to say, and we can surprise not only the other but even ourselves because we may say something we haven't said or even thought before. At least, that is one way to understand dialogue. This class will explore the foundations of this and other approaches to understanding dialogue and the implications of those approaches.

I don't think we can even consider the idea of dialogue without facing directly the thought of two important social theorists from the twentieth century, both of whose initials are MB. We are likely to spend a somewhat larger part of our semester on Martin Buber, who I regard as the most significant dialogic theorist of the last century. We will read and discuss his early classic, I and Thou, as well as some of his later work. We will also consider the great Russian literary theorist Mikhail Bakhtin as well as the thought of David Bohm, who has had a more impact on consulting practices and on those who facilitate dialogue than on communication scholarship. Undoubtedly, we will also explore other philosophies and theories of dialogue (especially Habermas and Gadamer). I expect we will include a look at contemporary research on dialogue, especially in such contexts as organizations, health care situations, and public deliberation. I expect we will discuss how researchers might study dialogue dialogically and perhaps how teachers might teach dialogically. I hope we will have chance to consider how to promote more dialogically oriented modes of communication in organizations, communities, and in public conversation, and should an opportunity present itself, to participate in efforts to promote dialogue in the Tampa Bay area.

COM 7933: Framing and Sensemanking (Doctoral Seminar), Dr. Jane Jorgenson

Framing and sensemaking have been generative concepts for understanding the social basis of perceptions and how people negotiate their worlds to achieve what Goffman called a “working consensus” about the events they encounter in social life. With its links to constructivist ontology, frame has been an especially evocative metaphor for organization studies because it emphasizes the contingent nature of our “seeing” depending on our vantage points as observers.

As interest in framing and sensemaking has blossomed, however, the terms have acquired different, sometimes incongruent, definitions within various research traditions. We will begin our explorations with theories originally put forth by Bateson and Goffman, before moving on to related work on metaphor by George Lakoff and others, and continuing with organization-centered analyses such as Karl Weick’s Sensemaking in Organizations and Gareth Morgan’s Images of Organization. Through these and other texts we can begin to address questions about the role of framing in interpretation (how, for example, do we establish points of view that create expectations about the salience and relevance of information) as well as questions about the coordination of interaction (how do we identify and label social situations as one thing rather than another). Our goal, more generally, is to better understand how individuals deal with the most problematic dimensions of social and behavior interpretation and how they/we respond to the ambiguity intrinsic to social life.

COM 6001: History and Theories of Communication, Drs. Garnet Butchart and Fred Steier (Required for all incoming PhD and MA Students)

With a view to cultivating an appreciation for the interdisciplinary nature of communication study, the aim of the course is to provide a conceptual and historical orientation to some of the enduring questions, core research traditions, and significant theoretical perspectives that have animated communication scholarship in Anglo-American contexts and beyond. In addition to critical engagement with classic and contemporary texts written by communication scholars, we will also hear presentations by selected scholars to offer you guidance in assessing and integrating communication theory with your emerging interests. Through readings, discussions, and presentations, students will obtain a foundation in the theories and histories of communication necessary for more advanced research in our field.

COM 7325: Qualitative Methods, Dr. Mariaelena Bartesaghi (Fulfills PhD and MA Thesis Option Methods Requirement)

We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time
-- T.S. Eliot, Little Gidding

In this course, you will experience, reflect on, and critically interrogate a set of naturalistic research approaches with particular attention to the methods used in ethnographic inquiry (participant observation and intensive interviews). Our time in class will be spent weaving the following three strands: (1) practical and analytic issues in the doing of naturalistic research, (2) ongoing data collection and analysis, and (3) affecting the necessary changes in how we approach what we are interested in studying as “data” and “field.”. We will also pay careful attention to ethnographic writing in all its stages, from field notes, to transcription, to analysis and presentation of research findings. One semester is not long enough to “learn” qualitative methods, and my goal is therefore for this course to be a foundation for you as you do and think and push you to do better along the way.

I require, throughout, that you do three things, and that you do these well:
1. Do not ask questions to which you already (think you) know the answers.
2. Listen, really listen.
3. Be humble.

COM 6025: Health Communication Theory and Narrative Medicine, Dr. Lori Roscoe

This course will use social theory to examine the interplay between social structure and individual agency in health care settings, and particularly in interactions between patients and physicians. As a culture we privilege autonomy and individual choice in health care decision making, but economic, narrative, institutional and family structures all constrain the exercise of individual agency. In addition to reading and discussing classic and current research in health communication, we will explore the possibilities of the narrative medicine paradigm to change and disrupt current structures in health care settings, and to create space for individual decisions about managing health and illness.

SPC 6313: Interpreting Communication Research, Dr. Loyd Pettegrew

Critics of graduate level education in the social sciences and humanities have pointed out that by embracing diverse methodologies, we have eroded the common ground on which to communicate about important social issues. As the methodological pendulum has swung from quantitative to qualitative methodology in the field of communication, the result has been anything but panoply of Renaissance methodologists. We have traded “the law of the hammer” for the “law of the narrative.” This increasing balkanization of methods within academic fields has led to an unintended consequence--we are increasingly unable (as opposed to unwilling) to read our own literatures.

This course is a designed to provide you with tools to help you understand the mainstream research literature in communication and the social sciences more generally. Since there is no perfect research study, as communication scholars we must know how and where to place studies on a continuum of quality. The course makes no assumptions about your understanding of quantitative research methods or statistical analysis. Beginners are welcomed and encouraged! I will treat you gently. By the end of the semester, you will be able to read, understand and critique the majority of quantitative studies in communication and related fields. A related goal is to expand your methodological repertoire so that you will be able to use the right methodological tool for the unique requirements of your research projects. In so doing, I hope you will learn to avoid the “law of the hammer” in which one’s methodological penchants drive how a subject is conceptualized and examined rather that the unique requirements of a particular social phenomenon or research question.

SPC 6934: Power and Control in Organizations, Dr. Mahuya Pal

This course explores organizations as sites of power and control. It provides an understanding of corporate colonization, a phenomenon that foregrounds the pervasive nature of the power of the Euromodern organization. Along with an engagement with Foucaultian ideas such as production of the subject and governmentality to understand the role of organizations in modern times, this course aims to analyze organizational power and control through the lens of postcolonial theory and subaltern studies. We will end the course with a brief examination of ideas of resistance in the context of corporate colonization.


Summer 2011

COM 6418: Communication and Systems Practice, Dr. Fred Steier, Summer Session C

This course will cultivate systemic understanding as a holistic way of seeing and acting. We will do this through the investigation of communication process in human systems, human-environmental systems, and human-technology systems. We will also study key concepts that form a ground for systemic understanding, such as interdependence, emergence, complexity, chaos, self-organization, self-regulation, autopoiesis, mutual causality, and paradox - as well as the relational consequences for what it means to be an "observer" in a participatory universe.

Coupled with our theoretical work, we will develop a systems practice. We will address questions of how we translate our systemic understanding to the identity and stability AND transformation of social systems, and engage those within the systems to become participants in such change processes. Thus, we will look at how systemic understanding can be "applied" to learning systems, family systems/ family therapy, organizational change, and community/ societal/ ecological change.

The course will involve experiences/ projects that will allow us to become co-investigators of a system, and look at our role as observers and actors in the consequences and inherent responsibilities of how we see and act. This will include design of a learning space for learning about systems.

SPC 6934: Memory, Trauma, and the Holocaust, Drs. Carolyn Ellis and Mark Greenberg, May 9-13

Carolyn Ellis (Professor, Communication) and Mark Greenberg (Head of USF Libraries Holocaust & Genocide Studies Center) will co-teach “Memory, Trauma, and the Holocaust” during the week-long break between spring and summer “A” session. This course will explore the Holocaust through oral history and personal testimony, concentrating on the impact of the passage of time and life experiences on memory and constructed storytelling of Holocaust survivors living in the Tampa Bay area. Students will engage relevant scholarship on memory, trauma, and narrative; view Holocaust documentaries; examine recorded survivor testimonies; and interact with local survivors. Prior courses in the Holocaust are not required, though students will be expected to complete Doris Bergen’s War and Genocide: A Concise History of the Holocaust before the class begins. The major course assignment will consist of analyzing several recorded interviews of a single survivor over a fifteen to twenty year period and writing a paper from the testimonies and other scholarly sources on memory, narrative, and trauma.

SPC 6934: Writing Workshop, Dr. Stacy Holman Jones, Summer Session A

In this course, we will explore the properties and practices of “performative writing.” We will do this by reading essays about performative writing—what it might look like and mean to do—as well as by reading and searching out exemplars of such work. We will consider performative writing as we engage in our own original writing over the course of the session. Our goals are to generate an understanding of performative writing as creative scholarly activity and to discuss and develop the strategies, skills, and commitments necessary for performative writing practitioners. We will, for the most part, conduct this course as a workshop. This means that the majority of our time will be spent writing our own work and reading and giving feedback to the other members of the workshop. We will supplement this work with brief reading/discussion sessions.


Spring 2011

Doctoral Seminars (Department of Communication PhD Students Only)

COM 7933: Reflexivity, Dr. Fred Steier

This course will explore what happens to all that we do in our professional, personal and interpersonal lives when we take notions of reflexivity seriously. We will further explore what this “bending-back” on ourselves - of how we self-refer, apply, point, experience, etc. –entails. We will look at how reflexivity plays out in different domains of activities—domains that might include research, reporting, writing fiction, creating a documentary, writing a biography, doing therapy, coaching, leading, designing, or even teaching and learning. We will spend considerable time looking at the contextual issues that emerge when one considers reflexive issues in any form of research. We will do this in ways that value different cultures of inquiry. We will look at how one looks at the very communication processes that produce the “results” of our communication scholarship. But most importantly, beyond such issues, we will also spend considerable time exploring deeply philosophical issues, including why, for example, reflexivity is so problematic for so many, as well as issues at the core of how we think about language and communication, knowing and not knowing. And most importantly, we will consider larger contextual issues in which questions of reflexivity are embedded. This will include what it means to see how asking reflexive questions may open up space for understanding and perhaps transforming the lives of others, or our environments.

COM 7933: Sexuality and Communication, Dr. Elizabeth Bell

This course is a tip of the iceburg on critical work in gendered sexualities, exploring gender, sex, and sexuality as articulated in, on, and through body, discourse, history, ideologies, and institutions. Disciplines (of the body) and disciplines (of knowledge) produce medical, scientific, social, psychological, cultural, religious, and legal discourses intimately related to how we are sexual subjects in material and historical ways.

The aim of this class is to begin to understand how gendered sexualities, constituted inside and outside normative boundaries, propose unique challenges to communication in everyday life, to research questions and methods, and to social justice projects.

Texts include Butler, Judith. 2004. Undoing Gender; Collins, Patricia Hill. 2 005. Black Sexual Politics: African Americans, Gender, and the New Racism; Fausto-Sterling, Anne. 2000. Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality; Foucault, Michel. 1978/1990. The History of Sexuality. Vol. 1; Halberstam, Judith. 1998. Female Masculinity; Weeks, Jeffrey. 2003. Sexuality, 2nd ed.

Required Course Offerings

COM 7325: Critical Methods, Dr. Rachel Dubrofsky (Fulfills PhD and MA Thesis Option Methods Requirement)

This course will familiarize students with critical methods of scholarship in the field of communication. Critical scholarship is political and active, foregrounding theory as a means of meaningful intervention. Broadly speaking, critical scholarship investigates dominant and hegemonic power, challenging that which is seen to produce objectionable power relations. This work also often deals with identity issues—for instance, class, race, sexuality, gender--and their implication in power dynamics. While critical scholarship shares the above concerns, the theories and methods vary depending on the object of study and research questions, which means the work is often interdisciplinary. The aim of the course is to explore central concerns in critical scholarship in communication and foster the practice of critical thinking and writing.

General Graduate Course Offerings

COM 5930: Race in Film, Dr. Navita James

This course explores social constructions of race, ethnicity and nationality in U.S. film from the early nineteen hundreds to the present utilizing a variety of theoretical and critical perspectives. Students will study and analyze selected films as well as both popular and academic critiques of those films. More specifically, analyses will include the various ways in which filmmakers have used and continue to use filmic and dialogic techniques to consciously and unconsciously construct the major "racial" groups in the U.S [(e.g., White, Black, Native American (Red), Latino (Brown), and Asian (Yellow)]; interracial relationships; racially related themes; and how audiences view, perceive, reconstruct and/or use these films.

SPC 6934: Communication and Close Relationships, Dr. Arthur Bochner

This course focuses on the interpersonal and intersubjective processes involved in the development of close personal relationships. Our special emphasis will be on the conditions, difficulties, and sorrows of loving and being loved. I assume that the art of loving is not something that comes naturally and thus many people suffer from an absence of love in their lives. Thus, we will examine the philosophy, theory, and practice of the art of loving and its connection to skillful communication. We will try to grasp what people mean when they talk about love-being "in love," "falling in love," being "lovesick" and so on. We will ask, what does love mean? Is love a feeling or is it volitional? In what sense is the capacity to love and be loved associated with skillful communication? How are our ideals and constructions of loving shaped by cultural narratives-cinema, music, fairy tales, etc.? We also will focus on the functions of communication over the course of a close and intimate relationship. What brings people together into a loving relationship in the first place? What keeps them together over months, years, or decades? How can we better understand and cope with the contradictions and conflicts that arise over the course of a relationship? Although our main focus will be on communication, we will look at close relationships from historical, sociological, psychological, philosophical, and cultural points of view as well, and we will place considerable emphasis on the emotional and erotic dimensions of loving relationships. The course seeks to provide both an intellectual and a practical experience for students.

SPC 6934: Communicating Emotions, Dr. Carolyn Ellis

Emotions. What are they? Are they irrational or the heart of rationality? Are they innate or learned? Hard wired or socialized? How do we experience them? How are emotions important in our lives? Do we all feel emotions the same way? Why is it that some things affect some of us emotionally and not others? Why do we become emotional when we do? Can we manage emotions or do they control us? Are there emotion rules that play a part in how we feel? Can we change what we become emotional about? Is there such a thing as emotional intelligence? Can we become more attentive to our emotions and, if so, what effects might that have? Can we learn to communicate our emotions more effectively? And read others’ emotions more successfully? What is the value of storying our emotions, and how might we go about doing that?

This course will emphasize an integrated social science and humanities focus on these topics and more. We will discuss what emotions are, what they mean to us, how we talk to ourselves and others about them, and how group and cultural membership influence our day to day emotional experiences. We will concentrate on emotions in the context of attachment and loss, particularly in romantic rela¬tionships and families, although we will examine emotions in other settings and groups as well. This course will use a combination of sources-- such as social science articles, therapeutic analysis, philosophical essays, poems, ethnographic short stories, fiction, first person accounts, music, and films--to convey and analyze emotional experience.

I view emotions as essential elements of our intelligence and our humanity. My goal is for us to learn about emotions on both an analytic and experiential level. In this course, we will cultivate the ability to talk about, think about, and feel emo¬tions within a dialectic of intimacy and distance. This means we will move back and forth from being in our and others' emotional experiences to analyzing how such experiences relate to our own and others' lives and to the groups and cultures in which we live. I believe this class has the capacity to help us understand the intersection of emotions and culture. I believe it will assist us in attending more to our emotions and to the emotions of others and in communicating these emotions successfully. We should be able to translate this knowledge into living happy, useful, and meaningful personal, social, and intellectual lives. I don’t think it’s too far-fetched to hope that this course might help make the world a better place, if people are more in tune with themselves and others emotionally.

SPC 6934: Kenneth Burke and Critical Thought, Dr. David Payne

Kenneth Burke and Critical Thought is a seminar in the major works and concepts of Kenneth Burke. Burke’s works have shaped rhetorical and communication theory in the last 50 years and steadily have gained a wider readership and appreciation among critical theorists and cultural studies scholars across the disciplines. Reading Burke’s primary works is also an introduction to intellectual thought in the 20th Century, one which features the intellectual and political contexts out of which a new focus on language and social criticism was forged, and one which produced the imperative of communication studies. Reading Burke is also one of the most stimulating and fun involvements for scholars of communication and critical thought.

SPC 6934: Organizing Difference, Dr. Carolina Webber

This course is designed to introduce key issues, concepts, and theoretical perspectives that shape organizational communication studies. The majority of the class readings, discussions, and assignments will focus on relationships among organization, identity, and power. Specifically, students will engage critical and feminist studies of difference (race, class, gender, and sexuality) in traditional cultures of organization as well as nontraditional organizing sites of meaning.

Text book: Mumby, D.K. (2010). Reframing difference in organizational communication studies: Research, pedagogy, practice. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Additional texts and course readings TBA



Fall 2010:

Doctoral Seminars (Department of Communication PhD Students Only)

COM 7933: Autoethnography, Dr. Carolyn Ellis

Autoethnography: research, writing, story, and method that connect the autobiographical and personal to the cultural, social, and political. In autoethnography, the life of the researcher, her or his interactions with other participants, and group membership become a conscious part of what is studied. In the last two decades qualitative researchers—from realists to impressionist writers—have begun to position themselves in their research and include themselves as participants in their interview and ethnographic studies of others. Likewise, there has been a burgeoning of autoethnographic projects that focus directly on the research and personal experiences of the author.

In this class, we will explore definitions and history of autoethnographic inquiry, contextualizing autoethnography within qualitative methods and narrative theory and at the intersection of social science and literature. We will concentrate on writing as a method of inquiry. We will look at the different ways our scholarship might incorporate autoethnography, for example, as personal narrative, reflexive or narrative ethnography, indigenous ethnography, complete member tales, cultural autoethnography, ethnographic memoirs, and intimate journalism, among others. We will examine forms in which autoethnography might be presented, such as ethnographic accounts, analytic autoethnography, short stories, poetry, performance, documentaries, and art. Autoethnography can be employed as method in multiple ways, including systematic personal introspection, reflexive interviews, interactive interviews, coconstructed narratives, and friendship as method. We will discuss autoethnographic practices and issues, such as writing field notes, emotional recall, capturing experience, memory, truth, therapeutic aspects of this research, and ethics in writing about intimate others. We will examine concerns in taking research to the community, back to participants, and to journals.

COM 7933: Communication and Resistance, Dr. Mahuya Pal

This course explores the communication processes that constitute marginalization and offer opportunities for enactment of resistance to the dominant social structures. In particular, this course seeks to elucidate those elements of the dominant culture that exert power and control, and create conditions of marginalization. Resistance emerges within the cracks and fissures of this dominant culture and renders power tenuous. The readings aim to provide foundations to culture and marginalization and insights into intersections of resistance and culture with particular attention to eurocentrism, subaltern theory, global capitalism, activism among a range of other issues.

Required Course Offerings

COM 6001: History and Theories of Communication, Drs. Jane Jorgenson and Dave Payne (Required for all incoming PhD and MA Students)

COM 7325: Qualitative Methods, Dr. Ambar Basu (Fulfills PhD and MA Thesis Option Methods Requirement)

This course will lead us through foundational aspects in qualitative research such as conceptualization, design and data collection, and analyses — in communication studies. The course includes discussion on the history and theories of qualitative research even as it aims to provide students an introduction to several techniques for, and issues in, gathering, analyzing, writing up and applying qualitative data. Course readings will come from sub-disciplines in communication as well as other disciplines. The ethical and political dynamics of qualitative research, and the relationships with other methodological approaches will also be discussed.

General Graduate Course Offerings

SPC 6934: Discourse Analysis, Dr. Mariaelena Bartesaghi

How do sentences do it? Don’t you know? For nothing is hidden.
(Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, 1953)

At once metatheoretical framework and methodological praxis, discourse analysis (better yet, discourse studies) describes an interdisciplinary family of approaches to naturally occurring talk (and, secondarily, text). In communication, discourse analysis finds its home within language and social interaction. DA invites you to set aside what is hidden, such as psychological or inner constructs (e.g., “mind,” or “intention”) or deterministic ideas of communication (e.g., gender, structure, and agency) and instead explore how they are essentially visible as discursive accomplishments.

By “close looking” of the relationship between communication and social life, this course will show you how talk is (and talk and text are):

(1) connected as matrices of social action
(2) constitutive of social relationships, consequential to their outcome, and multiply embedded in institutions
(3) always a matter of empirical analysis – that is, you do not know what something means before you analyze it

This is an introductory course, where you will be introduced to important EMPIRICAL approaches within discourse studies. Though theoretical issues raised by these approaches go hand in hand with methodological issues, my emphasis will remain with teaching you the basics of analyzing talk (and text): transcribing your data, identifying discourse strategies, arguing for what is most interesting, and arriving at a persuasive analysis of discourse dynamics. I encourage ongoing projects and questions on health, education, personal narrative, gender, psychological realities, the law, disability and much, much more!

As discourse scholars, I ask that you follow two ground rules:

1. Be open.
2. Do not ask questions to which you already know the answers.

SPC 6934: Narrative Identity, Drs. Art Bochner and Charles Guigion

This course focuses on the ways in which narratives give meaning to what we call the self. The course is designed to cut across the various disciplines associated with the explosion of interest in narrative, including anthropology, communication, education, literature, performance studies, philosophy, political science, psychology, religion, and sociology. The course is designed to be both conceptual/theoretical and practical. We want to investigate the project of self-understanding as a theoretical “problem,” but we also want to interrogate our own project of self-understanding as a practical/pragmatic issue of great importance to our own well-being over the course of our lives. Topics in the course include: the construction of the self through enacting and formulating narratives; the self as a conversation; narrative inheritance; pastness and identity; authenticity and narration; the temporal qualities of human experience; the dialectics of telling and living; how tradition and culture speak through stories; constraints of conventional modes of telling (including the orthodox conventions of academic writing and attempts to breach these traditions); the cleavage between experiencing and telling—what is lived and what can be told; hindsight, memory, and the narrative distortion hypothesis; the narrative unconscious; narrative integrity and moral action; narrative as moral reflection; narrative continuity and coherence across the life cycle; narrative reinvention of the self; narrative therapy; narrative practices in conducting and writing research and the search for more satisfying identities—who am I as a teacher, as a scholar, as a lover, as a friend, etc., and on what stories do these identities rest? Lectures, discussions, and readings in the course will draw from the work of philosophers such as Ricoeur, MacIntyre, Nietzsche; Heidegger, Crites, Nehamas, Taylor, and Bernard Williams, and social theorists such as Behar, Bruner, Carr, Frank, Freeman, Turner, Parry, and Hayden White.

SPC 6934: Culture and Critique, Dr. Garnet Butchart

This course is devoted to an understanding of the concept of critique. Although the term “critique” seems obvious enough, there are, in fact, only a small handful of scholarly works that employ it in the title: Kant’s famous “trilogy” (Critique of Pure Reason, Critique of Practical Reason, and Critique of Judgment); Marx’s, Capital: A Critique of Political Economy; Sartre’s Critique of Dialectical Reason; Horkheimer’s Critique of Instrumental Reason; and Spivak’s Critique of Postcolonial Reason. But what is critique? What does it do? Where does it lead us? And most importantly, what role does critique play today in helping to better understand the world around us? This course opens onto these kinds of questions via close reading of selected works of Freud, Benjamin, Foucault, Said, and Jameson, as well as some of the most provocative and important late cultural criticism by Giorgio Agamben, Jean-Luc Nancy, Peter Sloterdijk, Andrew Wernick, Rajagopalan Rhadakrishnan, and others.

SPC 6934: Communication at the End of Life, Dr. Lori Roscoe

This course explores current and historical themes and events that illustrate how death and dying are talked about, how controversies are resolved at the end-of-life, and how conflict is inevitable. We will use the precedent-setting cases of Karen Ann Quinlan, Nancy Cruzan, Dax Cowart and others such as Jack Kevorkian, as well as closely examine the more recent controversies surrounding the case of Terri Schiavo, which occurred in the Tampa Bay area. In addition we will consider controversies and ethical dilemmas about organ donation and defining death, physicians’ actions and reactions to the Hurricane Katrina disaster, what constitutes “a good death,” and the use of palliative sedation to ease suffering at the end of life. We will explore the contributions of the communication discipline and communication scholarship to our understanding of how relationships, perspective, and point of view influence how we decide what is ethical and appropriate regarding end-of-life decisions, and how these values and experiences serve as resources for confronting our own mortality and that of others.

ORI 6018: Performance Art, Dr. Stacy Holman Jones

This course explores performance art as an art-making, creating genre with particular histories, commitments, and processes. We will read and discuss historical, theoretical, and critical perspectives on performance art. We will also read and see the work of artists who consider themselves (and are considered to be) performance artists. We will make use of these ideas and experiences in the process of developing our own performance projects. As such, this is a course where designing, writing, and performing are engaged in tandem with theory and criticism. Specifically, we will think about/discuss/experience the influences on and precursors to performance art as an artistic form and process; the relationship of performance art to popular culture, other art-making forms, and social, cultural, and political events and attitudes; how performance art is a means for exploring and debating subjectivities, positions, and representations; how the work of performance artists, theorists, and critics can be useful to our own performance practices; and how our work contributes to current thinking about performance art theory and praxis.


Catalogue Descriptions



COM 5930—Topics in Communication Studies (3)
Topical issues in communication.

COM 6001—Theories and Histories of Communication (3)
Required of all M.A. and Ph.D. students. An introduction to the history and theory of communication as a discipline: its relationship to the arts and sciences, and a survey of the historical development of the field, emphasizing current issues in theory, research, and practice.

COM 6017—Gender in the Workplace (3)
This course focuses on the workplace as a site of gendered communication practices. A variety of work settings will be analyzed in terms of how they construct gender identities, reinforce public-private distinctions and maintain traditional career models.

COM 6025—Health Communication (3)
PR:GS. Application of communication theory and research to the health context including provider-patient communication, health information campaigns and health beliefs and behavior. Special attention to the value issues in health communication.

COM 6045—Communicating Leadership (3)
Effective leadership today focuses less on control and more on the strategic use of communication to build relationships and guide behavior. This course examines the various ways leaders can communicate more effectively in contemporary organizations.

COM 6121—Organizational Communication (3)
A study of communication theory and behavior within organizational settings: role of communication, communication climates, communication networks, leadership.

COM 6248—Historical Perspectives on Communication (3)
Explores prominent figures and theoretical movements in area of Communication (Interpersonal or Organizational Communication, Cultural Studies, Rhetorical Studies, or Performance Studies). [Repeatable for credit as topics vary.]

COM 6306—Action Research (3)
Action research is rooted in engagement, involving collaboration with community or organizational partners who will be affected by the research. Through hands-on projects we learn principles of action research and explore communication and ethical issues.

COM 6313—Interpreting Communication Research (3)
This course is designed to give students tools to help them interpret the mainstream research literature in communication and to judge research on a quality continuum. No assumptions are made about student understanding of quantitative research methods.

COM 6345—Contemporary Cultural Studies (3)
PR:GS. Examines theoretical issues and interpretive approaches for exploring questions of knowledge, identity, experience, meaning and value in modern culture through the study of communication.

COM 6400—Communication Theory (3)
PR:GS. An examination of communication theory through selected reading in the works of major theorists past and present.

COM 6418—Communication and Systems Practice (3)
Systems theories offer possibilities for understanding interconnections and emergence, identities and environments, and stability and change, with communication processes being central. We explore social systems principles by linking theory and praxis.

COM 6605—Media Studies (3)
PR:GS. Study of the impact of mass and mediated forms of communication on individuals, groups, societies, and cultures. Several theoretical and critical perspectives are considered.

COM 6724—Communication Training in Organizations (3)
Provides holistic understanding of how communication training is developed and conducted in organizations. Students learn to assess communication training needs, design/deliver effective communication training programs, and evaluate their effectiveness.

COM 7325—Seminar in Communication Research Methods (3)
Required of all Ph.D. students. Also required of all M.A. students wishing to pursue the thesis option. Examines the research practices and methodologies of communication as a discipline, including bibliographical resources, research designs, research techniques, and forms of scholarly presentation.

COM 7933—Seminar in Communication Studies (3)
PR:GS. Variable topics course.

ORI 5930—Topics in Performance Genres (3)
Variable topics course.

ORI 6018—Performance Art (3)
Explores historical, theoretical, and critical perspectives on performance art in the US.

ORI 6020—Performing Social Resistance (3)
Explores performance as a site of and means for creating social resistance and change.

ORI 6107—Texts in Performance (3)
Explores contemporary literary texts through dramatic analysis, live performance, adaptation and staging strategies.

ORI 6250—Performance and Technology (3)
Explores the relationship between live and mediated performance, the use of media technologies in performance, and the place of live performance in a Western mediated society.

ORI 6435—Performance as Cultural Study (3)
Impact of performance and performance forms as cultural communication. The course examines literary, festive, religious, political and social performance in dialogue with culture.

ORI 6456—Performance Theory (3)
A survey of modern and contemporary approaches to performance as constitutive of identity, verbal art, communication, and culture.

ORI 6506—Performance Criticism (3)
Focuses on the development and honing of critical skills employed in response to performance. These skills can be applied to a multitude of acts and texts.

ORI 6930—Communication Aesthetics (3)
This course examines the historical evolution of the aesthetic dimension of communication as performance in terms of major concepts and theorists from Plato to the present.

ORI 7930—Seminar in Performance Studies (3)
Variable topics course.

SPC 5238—Topics in Rhetorical Analysis (3)
Introduces a variety of critical perspectives applied to rhetoric in specialized contexts. Topics vary depending upon interest of students and faculty.

SPC 5930—Topics in Discourse (3)
Variable topics course.

SPC 6214—Ethnography of Communication (3)
Explores ethnography as an approach to conducting research and a means of theorizing about human communication.

SPC 6231—Survey of Rhetorical Theory (3)
Historical development of rhetorical theory from Plato to contemporary theorists with emphasis upon the evolution of trends and concepts in rhetorical theory.

SPC 6236—Contemporary Rhetorical Theory (3)
PR:GS Basic texts in 20th century rhetorical theory. Readings may vary.

SPC 6391—Interpersonal Communication (3)
Study of theory and research related to interpersonal communication.

SPC 6432—Family Communication (3)
This course examines the family in terms of the patterns of interaction through which meanings are produced. Family communication concepts and theories will be introduced as they relate to diverse family forms and experiences.

SPC 6545—Persuasion (3)
Study of contemporary theories and research in persuasion.

SPC 6645—Rhetoric in Society (3)
Examination of ways in which rhetoric reflects and molds social processes, including social integration and/or alienation; social roles and identity construction; institutions and movements; ideology and social change.

SPC 6682—Rhetorical Criticism (3)
The study of theoretical perspectives in rhetorical criticism. The application of criticism to selected rhetorical situations.

SPC 6726—Communication in Close Relationships (3)
Interpersonal and intersubjective processes involved in the development of close personal relationships. Includes studies and personal experiences that cut across historical, therapeutic, spiritual, philosophical, literary, and cinematic perspectives.

SPC 6728—Communicating Grief, Loss, and Illness (3)
Examines how illness and loss disrupt our stories of self and relationships and lead to construction of new stories, also cultural patterns of stories. Topics include critical illness and relationships, dying, bodies, emotions, caregiving, aging, and divorce.

SPC 6903—Directed Readings (1-4)
PR:CC.

SPC 6913—Directed Research (1-4)
PR:ML,CC. S/U.

SPC 6934—Selected Topics in Communication (1-4)

SPC 6935—Pro Seminar in Communication
Reading and discussion of current books, articles, and papers in communication theory and research.

SPC 6971—Thesis: Masters (1-19)
PR:CC S/U.

SPC 7900—Doctoral Research Tutorial (1-3)
PR:Admitted to doctoral program. Advance directed research.

SPC 7930—Seminar in Rhetorical Studies (3)
PR:GS Variable topics course.

SPC 7980—Dissertation: Doctoral (1-19)
PR:Admission to candidacy.

SYA 6205—Social Construction of Reality (3)
Evolution of the concept of social construction; emphasizes the consequences of understanding lived experiences and discursive representations as social constructions. Topics include depression, child abuse, masculinity/femininity, and sexual harassment.