Communication and Media Studies 433

COMS 433: Communication and Social Change

Prerequisites: COMS 130 and COMS 230 or permission of instructor

Credit Hours: (3)

Introduction to rhetorical theory through study and analysis of selected pieces of public address or social movements.


Detailed Description of Content of Course

The general purpose of this course is to familiarize the student with how power is created by persuasive communication acts. To accomplish this purpose, the student is introduced to rhetorical theory and analytical methodologies used to examine specific rhetorical artifacts. The content of the course includes the following:

1. Language as the basis for creating reality
2. The nature of rhetorical criticism
3. The rhetorical situation
4. Examination of arguments in rhetoric
5. Ethical considerations in rhetoric
6. Ideology and propaganda
7. The nature of social movements
8. Specific types of rhetorical criticism, e.g., generic criticism, dramatistic criticism, feminist criticism, narrative criticism
9. Specific types of rhetoric, e.g., the rhetoric of antisemitism, the rhetoric of sexism, the rhetoric of war, the rhetoric of agitation, the rhetoric of control, the rhetoric of film, the rhetoric of television
10. Specific instances of rhetoric, e.g., McCarthyism, the KKK, Gandhi, the civil rights movement, the anti-war movement


Detailed Description of the Conduct of Course

The course is conducted using an informal lecture/discussion format.


Goals and Objectives of the Course

1. Students will demonstrate an understanding of rhetorical theory
2. Students will demonstrate an understanding of the skills necessary for analysis of communication events and movements
3. Students will demonstrate an understanding of logical and ethical standards of rhetoric
4. Students will demonstrate an understanding of the methods by which the student can assess and critique a variety of rhetorical experiences


Assessment Measures

Students may be assessed by the quality of assigned analytical essays/papers, by the quality of their preparation and participation, by the quality of oral reports on assigned topics, and by written examinations.


Other Course Information

The specific rhetorical events studied in this course may vary from semester to semester given current topics and/or specific research interests of the students enrolled.


Review and Approval

Bill Kennan, Chair September 2001