Communication and Culture | Senior Seminar in Communication and Culture (Topic: Words and Images in Politics and Culture)
C401 | 27833 | Simons, J.

MW, 1:00 PM-2:15 PM, C2 203

Instructor: Jon Simons
Office: C2 239
Phone: 856-0896

Much scholarship about democracy argues that its political discourse
is sustained by the reasonableness of public, verbal argument and
debate, known as deliberation. Frequently, deliberation is thought
to be undermined by visual (or audio-visual and multi-media) forms
of political discourse. The course assesses the strength of these
arguments by reframing them in terms of an ongoing ideological
contest between words and images in Western culture. We ask what is
at stake in the contemporary dispute between words and images, in
respect of assertions that we live in a predominantly visual
culture. What sorts of cultural, social and political distinctions
(such as between high/elite or low/mass culture) are performed and
enacted in the preferences for verbal or (audio)visual modes of
discourse? We also explore the extent to which (audio)visual
cultural forms such as film and television can stimulate public,
political debate and can contribute as much (or even more) to
critical political thinking in the democratic sphere as traditional,
verbalized discourse.

•	Student’s work for this class will focus on specific
examples of verbal and multi-media modes of both deliberately
political address and other events or artefacts of popular culture
that play a role in political discourse.
•	Authors studied include Daniel Boorstin, Neil Postman,
Jürgen Habermas, Benjamin Barber, Susan Bordo, W.J.T. Mitchell,
Barbara Maria Stafford, Kevin DeLuca.
•	Continues themes presented in C445: Media, Culture and
Politics and in C336: Public Culture and Popular Culture.
•	Assignments include in-class verbal reader responses, a
paper proposal, a literature review, a 10 minute class presentation,
and end of term paper or project (3,500 words).