Communication and Culture | Senior Seminar in Communication and Culture (Topic: Words and Images in Politics and Culture)
C401 | 14275 | Simons, J.

TR, 4:00 PM-5:15 PM, 800 E. 3rd St. – room 203

Instructor: Jon Simons
Office: 800 E. 3rd St. – room 227
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: Using Popular Culture.

• Assignments include four short reader responses (250 words), a 10
minute class presentation, a midterm and end of term paper or
project (3,500 words each). Also graded on attendance.