Communication And Culture | Introduction to Communication & Culture
C205 | 1165 | Robert E. Terrill

Class meeting: MW 8:00-9:15 am ED1120
Satisfies the COAS AHTI distribution requirement
Required for all majors in the Department of Communication & Culture

The study of communication is challenging precisely because
communication is ubiquitous. We all communicate, in various media
(speaking, writing, music, video, film), all the time.  Because we
are all always communicating, it is difficult to concentrate on the
act of communication itself (in much the same way as it probably is
difficult for a goldfish to concentrate on the water in its bowl). To
complicate matters further, in our culture we have been trained to
think of ideal communication as being communication that does not
draw attention to itself.  For example, we constantly are told that
the best writing is "clear" (like that water in the goldfish bowl) or
that it "doesn't get in the way of the ideas."   Thus, before we can
pay attention to communication as something worthy of study, we must
first overturn much of what we've previously been taught about

The course attempts to do just that. Its central thesis is that
communication is not merely a neutral, transparent "container" for
data and ideas. Communication does not merely "transmit" the beliefs,
attitudes, behaviors, and identities that define human culture. In
other words, communication is never as "clear" as the water in a
goldfish bowl ought to be. If we believe that communication can be
simple and clear, or that it should be simple and clear, we end up
missing much of what is interesting about the study of communication--
and about the human condition in a contemporary mediated culture.

As an introductory course, C205 provides a broad overview of the
conceptual vocabularies and critical strategies that scholars use to
study communication. The goal here is to provide students with the
ability to recognize and discuss these various perspectives, and thus
begin to develop the tools needed to become intelligent observers of
human communication as well as effective participants in contemporary

This course also is an introduction to the unique perspective
provided by the combined interests and talents of the Communication &
Culture faculty.  Toward this end, we will read essays written by
scholars whose interests represent those that characterize our
faculty--including Rhetoric, Performance & Ethnographic Studies, and
Film & Media--and attempt to synthesize from those a productive
understanding of communication.

During fall semester, the course will be delivered as a lecture.
Assignments will include several short reading quizzes, two midterms,
and a comprehensive final exam.

On-line course materials and instructor contact information are
available at: