Department of Communication
Current Graduate Courses

Current Grad Classes - Fall 2014

Course Number: COMM 6213
Title: Health Literacy
Instructor: Amanda Young
Days/Time: TR, 11:20-12:45

Course Description:

Health literacy has many definitions, but in this course, we will use the definition from the Institute of Medicine: The ability to understand health information and to use that information to make good decisions about your health and medical care" ( In this course, we will study the development of health literacy as an area of concern in healthcare, including patient/provider interactions, public health campaigns, health education, healthcare reform, and health insurance. We will study the implications of health literacy for vulnerable populations, like the elderly, non-native English speakers, those with mental health challenges, and others. We will also study health literacy in the context of online health information.

Course Objectives

1. To understand the functions of basic literacy in health care and the impact of low health literacy on the health status of vulnerable individuals and populations
2. To understand the prevalence of low health literacy among various sub-populations in the US
3. To become acquainted with strategies to assess health literacy 4. To develop written, oral and visual communication strategies to provide health information to individuals and groups at various literacy levels


Zarcadoolas, C., Pleasant, A., & Greer, D. A., (2006). Advancing Health Literacy: A Framework for Understanding. Additional readings will be assigned.

Course Number: COMM 6223 
Title: Special Topics in Film: Monster Films 
Instructor: Marina Levina 
Days/Time: Tuesdays 1-4pm 

Course Description:

In her famous book, Our Vampires, Ourselves (1997), Nina Auerbach writes that each age embraces the vampire it needs. This statement speaks to the essential role that monster narratives play in culture. They offer a space where society can safely represent and address anxieties of its time. This course will survey classic and contemporary monster films. As a whole, it argues that monstrous narratives of the past decade have become omnipresent specifically because they represent social collective anxieties over resisting and embracing change. They can be read as a response to a rapidly changing cultural, social, political, economic, and moral landscape. And while monsters always tapped into anxieties over a changing world, they have never been as popular, or as needed, as in the past decade. This course explores monstrosity as a social and cultural category for organizing, classifying, and managing change. Based in the field of media studies and critical theory, it will provide film case studies that explore monstrous discourse and representation in film.

Proposed Texts:

Marina Levina and Diem-my Bui (Eds.) Monster Culture in the 21st Century: A Reader, Bloomsbury Academic: NYC, 2013; Additional readings will be posted on ecourseware.

Particulars: Graduate students will be expected to complete a longer research paper and longer exams.

Course Number: COMM 6824
Title: Cinematography/Videography
Instructor: David Appleby
Days/Time: W 1-4pm

Course Description

This course is designed to expand your technical knowledge so that you will have a better understanding of the tools and procedures necessary for solving the multitude of problems, aesthetic and technical, that confront the image-maker. While I have incorporated a number of exercises and a final project to allow you the opportunity to apply these concepts, there is no provision made for the kind of day-to-day production work that is required in order to become truly skilled. Rather, the course attempts to lay a foundation upon which you can later build.


Brown, Blain. Cinematography, 2nd Edition, Focal Press.


Brown, Blain. Motion Picture and Video Lighting, Focal Press; Ritsko, Alan. Lighting for Location Motion Pictures; Malkiewicz, Kris. Cinematography, Second Edition; American Cinematographer Manual; American Cinematographer Magazine; International Cinematographers Guild Magazine; The Independent; Filmmaker Magazine, Student Filmmaker Magazine.


Exam #1: 20%
Exam #2: 20%
Exam #3: 30%
Night-for night stills 5%
Planned Sequence: 5%
Final group project: 20%

Course Number: COMM 6340
Course Title: Listening
Instructor: Gray Matthews
Days/Time: MW 5:30-6:55 pm

Course Description:

The primary goal of this course is: To enhance one's inner capacity to listen. The course requires rigorous openness in being willing to reorient one's perspective of communication, as well as taking the risk to reawaken one's ability to wonder about ultimate, indestructible questions regarding living a thoroughly expressive life. Although we will study types, skills and functions of listening on a practical level, our chief focus will center on listening as a way of being-in-relation with others. Thus, emphasis will be balanced on three levels: (1) Personal discovery and evaluation of one's own listening ability as a criterion for communication competency; (2) Philosophical issues and concerns regarding listening in the art of living; and (3) Practical exercises and applications of effective listening in various situations. Learning objectives include: enhancing and sharpening communication skills and competencies, improving the quality of meaningfulness in relationships with others, reflecting upon and discerning how listening impacts all human activities and appreciating the insights of communication research on the phenomenon listening.

Proposed Texts:

The Other Side of Language. Gemma Corradi Fiumara. NY: Routledge, 1990.
The Lost Art of Listening. Michael P. Nichols. NY: Guilford, 1995.

Particulars: Journal, essay, critical research paper.

Course Number: COMM 6364 
Course Title: Voices of American Women 
Instructor: Sandra Sarkela 
Days/Time: TR 9:40-11:05 am

Course Description:

This course examines the history of women's public discourse in the U.S. from the 19th - century to the present day; considers the social and cultural significance of women's participation in public discourse; and addresses issues of credibility and the nature of argument both within and about women's public address. Graduate students will be given the opportunity to teach a class and mentor a small group of undergraduate students.

Proposed Texts: (all are on reserve in the library):

Karlyn Kohrs Campbell, Man Cannot Speak for Her: Key Texts of the Early Feminists, Volume II (New York: Praeger, 1989)
Shirley Wilson Logan, With Pen and Voice: A Critical Anthology of Nineteenth-Century African-American Women (Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 1995).
Sarkela, Ross, Lowe, From Megaphones to Microphones: Speeches of American Women, 1920-1960 (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2003).

Course Number: COMM 7014/8014 and PUBH 7014/8014 
Title: Public Health Communication 
Instructor: Patrick Dillon 
Day/Time: T 6:00 – 9:00 pm

Course Description:

This course explores the communication processes and practices that are used to promote positive changes in health behavior and to inform publics about specific health risks. After exploring the research models and methodologies used to disseminate health information and promote behavior change, we will examine issues of health literacy; formats for disseminating medical, health, and wellness information; and the complex, specific audiences that public health communication must address.

Course Objectives:

1. To understand the role of communication in public health campaigns, interventions, and research
2. To develop an awareness of the complex issues of health communication in the public health arena
3. To examine theoretical models, research design, and evaluation methodologies inherent in public health communication
4. To appreciate the interplay of theory, research, and praxis of health communication in public health settings and campaigns
5. To recognize the multicultural audiences in local, national, and global public health communication

Proposed Texts:

Parvanta, C., Nelson, D. E., Parvanta, S. A., & Harner, R. N. (2011). Essentials of public health communication. Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Farmer, P., Kleinman, A., Kim, J., & Basilico, M. (2010). Reimagining global health: An introduction. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Other readings will be available on eCourseware.

Particulars: Weekly responses, short writing assignments, and final paper

Course Number: COMM 7332/8332
Title: Seminar in Communication Research: New Media and Society
Instructor: Marina Levina
Days/Time: M 5:30 – 8:30 pm

Course Description:

This course examines current theoretical approaches to the study of new media. We will specifically focus on network theory, digital materialism, virality (or contagion theory), and actor-network theory. The course will analyze different aspects of digital and social media and it application to the study of democracy, identity, and globalization.

Proposed Texts:

Alexander Galloway and Eugene Thacker (2007) The Exploit: A Theory of Networks, University of Minnesota Press

Tiziana Terranova (2004) Network Culture: Politics for the Information Age, Pluto Press

Mark Hansen (2006) Bodies in Code: Interfaces with Digital Media, Routledge

Tony Sampson (2012) Virality: Contagion Theory in the Age of Networks, University of Minnesota Press

Course Number: COMM 7434/8434 
Title: Qualitative Research Methods
Instructor: Katherine G. Hendrix
Days/Times: W 5:30 – 8:30 p.m.

Course Description:

Qualitative methods is offered as an analytic tool complementing and/or serving as a alternative to statistics and rhetorical criticism. This course will introduce graduate students to qualitative research as a means of investigating a phenomenon of interest with an emphasis on data collection methods such as researcher observation and participant interviews. The course content serves as a foundation for further study in advanced qualitative methods including online interpretive research, case study, and ethnography. Advanced learners who do not necessarily plan to employ a qualitative approach (how do you know until you understand what it is???) should at least be familiar with this method and capable of reading and assessing such research.

Proposed Texts:

Creswell, J. W. (2012). Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five traditions (3rd ed). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Kvale, S., & Brinkmann, S. (2014). Interviews: Learning the craft of qualitative research interviewing (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Selected readings will also be distributed in class.


Denzin, N. K., & Lincoln, Y. S., (Eds.). (2008). Collecting and interpreting qualitative materials (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Denzin, N.K., & Lincoln, Y.S. (Eds.). (2011). Sage handbook of qualitative research methods (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Course Number: COMM 7616/8616
Title: Contemporary Rhetorical Theory
Instructor: Antonio de Velasco
Days/Time: R 5:30 – 8:30 pm 

Course Description: What makes a theory of rhetoric – itself a contested term – "contemporary?" Is it merely a question of historical location in an evolving tradition? Or is something more fundamental at stake in the emerging "new rhetorics" of the middle and late twentieth century? This course will take a sustained look at such questions by surveying a range of topics and thinkers that have been central to recent scholarship in rhetoric studies across the disciplinary spectrum. Course goals include: understanding challenges to classical and modern rhetoric study; becoming familiar with the work of Kenneth Burke; making links between rhetoric, subjectivity, epistemology, and ideology; situating rhetoric in the context of social and critical theory; and, finally, developing an ability to describe, evaluate, and debate central issues in contemporary rhetorical theory.

Proposed Texts:

The New Rhetoric: A Treatise on Argumentation, Chaïm Perelman and Lucie Olbrechts-Tyteca
Permanence and Change: An Anatomy of Purpose, Kenneth Burke
A Rhetoric of Motives, Kenneth Burke
Sourcebook on Rhetoric, James Jasinski
Identity's Strategy: Rhetorical Selves in Conversion, Dana Anderson
Reclaiming Queer: Activist and Academic Rhetorics of Resistance, Erin J. Rand
Hearing the Hurt: Rhetoric, Aesthetics, and Politics of the New Negro Movement, Eric King Watts

Particulars: Weekly responses, final paper.

Course Number: COMM 7350/8350 and ENGL 7350/8350
Title: Rhetorical Theory
Instructor: Brad McAdon
Days / Times: T 5:30 – 8:30 pm

Course Description:

Unlike a course like Contemporary Rhetorical Theory that has the pedagogical luxury of studying rhetorical texts and concepts within a more focused historical period, this course will cover rhetorical texts and concepts that span almost 2,000 years. Because, in some respects, we are doing history, we will begin with a few necessary historiographical and methodological considerations, and then begin reading Alcidamas, Isocrates, Plato, and Aristotle and develop historical, political, philosophical, rhetorical, and educational contexts within which these texts and rhetorical concepts emerged. We will then move on to excerpts from the anonymous ad Herennium, a few selections from Quintilian's Institutes, emerging early Christian rhetorical practices, Libanius' school of rhetoric, Augustine's On Christian Doctrine, and, time permitting, rhetorical practices within the early Renaissance. We will also follow two threads: one is mimesis / imitatio (imitation) and the extent to which ancient authors and speakers relied upon this rhetorical devise from (at least) Isocrates through the Renaissance, and the second is how teachers taught and how students learned and practiced rhetorical concepts in antiquity.

Proposed Texts:

Augustine. On Christian Doctrine. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997.
Morgan, Teresa. Literate Education in the Hellenistic and Roman Worlds. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007 [1998].
Murphy, James J. Quintilian: On the Teaching of Speaking and Writing: Translation from Books One, Two, and Ten of the Institutio oratia. Carbondale: SIUP, 1987.
Cribiore, Rafaella. Libanius the Sophist: Rhetoric, Reality, and Religion in the Fourth Century. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2013.
Plato. Phaedrus. Trans. Alexander Nehams and Paul Woodruff. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing, 1995
Sachs, Joe. Plato Gorgias and Aristotle Rhetoric, Newburyport, MA: Focus Publishing, 2009

Additional course materials will be provided.

Course requirements in addition to the readings and class discussions:

  • Ten weekly summary essays on the assigned readings
  • A semester research paper with annotated bibliography
  • Lead one class discussion on an assigned text
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