Communication and Culture | Current Topics in Communication and Culture ( The Rhetorical City)
C334 | 13709 | Smith, C

CMCL-C 334: Current Topics in Communication and Culture
(Topic: The Rhetorical City)
Class Number: 13709

MW, 1:00 PM-2:15 PM, BH 344

Instructor: Cynthia Duquette Smith
Office: C2 221
Phone: 855-5307

The city. Throughout history, cities have been the source of
excitement, frustration, fear, and fantasy. This class explores the
role of cities in American life, and the ideas and emotions we
harbor about them. Rather than taking “the city” simply as a given,
something that just “happens” and then provokes reactions, this
course understands both the physical design and construction of
cities as well as our ideas about them as the product of rhetorical
work. Thinking about cities and building cities both require the
discourse and decision-making of human beings; that’s where things
get especially interesting.

Through a variety of interdisciplinary readings and specific
examples we will come to a better understanding of how cities are
designed and planned, and the many cultural, social, and economic
factors influencing city plans. Together we’ll explore in greater
depth places like Chicago, New York City, and Berlin. We’ll look at
the public face of cities, as well as the parts of cities most
people never see or discuss.  We’ll look at “legitimate” or official
cities, as well as the slums and squatter communities surrounding
them in many parts of the world.

In conjunction with our exploration of “real” (actually built)
cities, we’ll examine “imagined” or utopian cities that were never
built, but nonetheless played a significant role in influencing the
development of their real counterparts. Because theorizing and
thinking about city planning is an ongoing and contemporary process,
we’ll consider some of today’s intriguing ideas for the future of
American cities.

This class will require your informed and active participation. If
you’d prefer to take a class where you can disappear, this one is
not your best choice. As an instructor, I favor active classrooms
with engaging discussion, as well as small-group work and a variety
of other interaction opportunities.

This class will use a number of assignment types to evaluate your
learning. The precise nature of these assignments has yet to be
determined, but you can expect to spend a good amount of time
writing and responding to our readings. The class will culminate in
what I hope will be a fascinating group project and presentation,
where you and your team will propose your ideas for an “ideal” city
of the future.