Communication and Culture | Senior Seminar in Communication and Culture
C401 | 1173 | Robert Terrill

Perhaps no other concept has had more impact on the public culture of
the United States than race.  It circulates within our public
discourse and shapes our public institutions.   Throughtout American
history, race has been a central element at almost every moment of
crisis; in our day to day lives, it is an unavoidable presence.  As
Cornel West put it: race matters.  In this course, we will explore the
way that race matters rhetorically.  In other words, we will examine
some of the ways that the concept of race has been, is, and will
continue to be shaped by and deployed within American public
discourse.  And we will think about how to draw upon these rhetorical
manifestations of race as resources for more effectively negotiating
contemporary democratic culture.

In this course we will read widely in materials published throughout
American history and into the present, but we will concentrate
primarily on the twentieth century.  We also will concentrate on the
African-American experience.  Our task will be to begin to come to
terms with race as a specifically rhetorical issue that can best be
understood through the careful analysis of public discourse.  We will
do so by engaging direclty some of the most significant historical,
political and theoretical works that addreess the issue of race in

The syllabus may include selections from: Cornel West, Henry Louis
Gates, Patricia Hill Collins, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., bell
hooks, Ida B. Wells, Marcus Garvey, David Walker, W.E.B. Du Bois,
Booker T. Washington, Elijah Muhammad, Louis Farrakhan, Stuart Hall,
Toni Morrison, Angela David, and Frantz Fanon.  A collection of
statements, speeches, and documents that have profoundly affected our
collective understanding of race would also include selections from
the works of Alexis de Tocqueville, Thomas Jefferson, Jefferson Davis,
Abraham Lincoln, Lyndon B. Johnson, John F. Kennedy, and Bill Clinton,
as well as key legal decisions, including "Dred Scott" (l846) and
"Brown v. Board" (l954).

This is a 400 level course, and it will be a relatively small class.
I am looking for studnets who are interested in reading these
materials thoroughly, and who will come to class well-prepared and
eager to engage in a lively discussion.  Assignments will include
several short writing assignments, a midterm exam, and a research
paper due at the end of the semester.