Communication and Culture | Media, Culture, and Politics (Topic: Communication Ethics in the Age of Obama)
C445 | 12961 | Smith, A.

MTuWThF, 11:45 AM-1:00 PM, C2 203

Instructor: April Smith
Office: C2 216
Phone: 855-6405

Jersey Shore, The Flavor of Love, Project Runway, Jon and Kate Plus
Eight, The Real Housewives, and Celebrity Big Brother are just a few
of the highly rated reality television shows that have achieved
cultural prominence in the American media. Such programs present
entertainment as public humiliation and spectacle, and are widely
consumed for their outrageous shock factor and sensationalism of
combative conflict. Political news programs such as those seen on
Fox News and MSNBC networks frequently glamorize antagonistic and
divisive journalistic warfare in the contemporary political
landscape. Given the increasing proliferation of such controversial
reality and talk television programming, this course examines how
these mediated public interactions and performances shape our
ethical and civic communicative exchanges. In such a social world,
what is the function and value of understanding and implementing the
practice of communication ethics? Can we find more effective ways
for productively interacting in the “Age of Obama” - a historical
moment where we must confront the complexities of diversity, change,
and conflict within our public culture.

This course surveys some representative examples of competing and
contentious public narratives along the lines of race, ethnicity,
class, gender, and politics in order to elucidate varied ethically-
grounded communication processes and approaches for negotiating
conflicts and differences that can inform productive communicative
exchange in our public, professional, and personal lives.  The
classroom deliberative process seeks to engage communication ethics
theory and praxis in order to foster a cultural and political
aptitude (and attitude) for ethically understanding, engaging, and
valuing competing perspectives in a pluralistic democracy over
argumentative condemnation and hostility towards difference and