Communication and Culture | Interpersonal Communication
C122 | ALL | Robinson, J.
Fulfills College S&H Requirement
Course Director: Jennifer Robinson
Office: 800 E. 3rd St. – room 273
Interpersonal Communication is an introduction to the study of
communication, culture, identity and power and asks each student to
do original ethnographic research on the interpersonal themes
discussed in class. We are particularly interested in the
performance of identity and power—how do people in everyday
conversation create the world they live in?
We will encourage you not only to analyze others' communication but
also to use the theoretical principles you learn to become more
aware of how your interpersonal interactions are connected to
broader questions of power and social identity.
The specific topics covered are very broad. The course takes a
cross-cultural approach and looks at material ranging from North
Africa to 17th-century Quakers to a modern-day Deaf Church to high
school and college students in San Francisco, Virginia and the
Midwest, all of which can be found in the new Cultural Approach to
Interpersonal Communication edited by Leila Monaghan and Jane
Goodman. One strong focus of the class is examining language used
every day by Indiana students—gendered language, slang, cursing and
verbal play. Past students have told us that this course changed
the way they view the world and that they now see patterns in their
conversations and lives that they had never even considered before.
Interpersonal Communication classes are a lively mixture of lecture
and discussion. Students are asked to connect rigorous theoretical
readings to their own lives—how they interact with friends, family,
lovers and disliked acquaintances. In addition to the ethnographic
research project where students tape and analyze the interpersonal
communication of a social group of their choice, students will be
expected to make low-key presentations of the material they read.
Students in this class develop a unique set of analytical skills,
making them more confident in reading and speaking about complex
material and in understanding how communication impacts their own
lives. It is also an unusual opportunity to do original primary
research at the undergraduate level and makes an excellent
foundation for any further work in performance and ethnography in
departments such as Communication and Culture, Anthropology and