Communication and Culture | Political Communication
C444 | 1088 | Robert Terrill

Some courses approach the study of politics as a "science," but we
shall approach it as an art.  Specifically, we will take a rhetorical
perspective on political communication, examining the relationships
between persuasive communicative artistry and social change in
America.  How does this artistry help to create what we might describe
as our national identity?  How does it help to define what we perceive
as the national identities of others?  How do the persuasive
strategies at work in these discourses shift and cohere across
multiple media?  What sorts of political work are hindered, and in
what ways, by these communicative practices?  How might individuals
become careful critics of, and fluent participants in, American public

We will examine public discourse - primarily oratory, but also film
and television - with an eye toward the ways that such discourse both
affects and effects our political selves.  In other words, we will
study the ways that such discourse forms us, as well as the ways that
such discourse is formed by American political culture.

Examples and case studies will be drawn both from the distant and the
recent past, and may include:  presidential oratory, war rhetoric, the
rhetoric of popular film, black nationalism, and women's rights.  Our
focus will be developing strategies for analyzing this discourse.
Then, we will use what we learn through our analysis of these past
discourses as a way to understand contemporary American political

Coursework will include several short written assignments which will
culminate in a final project.  For this project, students are required
to make use of course material in the analysis of contemporary
political discourse.  Some examples of past projects include analyses
of:  local political campaigns, television documentaries, campus
politics, and the political impact of sports.