College Catalogue



Christina Ceisel
Megan M. Dowd
Catherine W. Phelan, Chair

Beginning with the 2017 class, the department offers a minor, but not a concentration. Students also have the option of pursuing an interdisciplinary concentration.

The 2012-2013 catalog identifies requirements for the class of 2015. Students are encouraged to speak with the Chair of the department if they have questions regarding relevant courses. Going forward, the department is committed to flexibility in addressing students' desires to purse the best options for their concentration.

For the class of 2016, A concentration in communication consists of seven courses in communication and three courses from a related discipline. The communication courses include four core requirements that every concentrator takes, as well as three communication electives. One of the three electives must be at the 300 level or above. The core communication courses are 101, 302, 455 and the senior thesis (500). These courses are offered every year. Electives in communication are offered every other year.

The three cognates from a related discipline are selected based on the student's intellectual goals.
Concentrators are encouraged to identify a discipline that supports their study of communication, for example art, computer science, or public policy, among others. Cognates must be at the 200 level or above and cannot count toward a second major or a minor. Students will provide a written rational of how their interests in communication are supported by coursework in their cognate discipline. Cognate selections and accompanying rationale must be approved by department advisor or department chair.

Students pursuing a concentration in communication will gain a critical understanding of the theoretical frameworks and methods of research in the discipline. Communication Theory (302) should be taken in the student’s junior year, followed by Methods of Communication Research (455) and Senior Thesis (500) in the fall and spring, respectively, of senior year. All senior projects consist of both written and oral components, culminating in a final draft of original research and an oral presentation to students and faculty at the end of the course.

Honors in communication will be awarded based on a cumulative record of 3.5 (90) or above in all courses counting toward the concentration, as well as excellence in the Senior Thesis (500).

A minor in communication consists of five communication courses: 101, and four additional courses (two of which must be at the 300 level or above).

The mission of the Communication Department is to ensure that students are critically aware of the ways in which information technologies inevitably alter interpersonal and social environments. The curriculum focuses on the interplay of face-to-face and mediated communication, while recognizing that speech can take many forms and be studied within many contexts.

Learning goals of the Communication concentration include:
1. To critically investigate the diverse ways in which information technologies can alter the human communication environment.
2. To understand the complex ways in which concerns with communication cannot be separated from ethical concerns.
3. To discern how interpersonal communication is fundamentally different from the varied forms of mediated communication.
4. To relate the different approaches of the study of Communication to the key questions of the discipline.
5. To apply the most appropriate of different methodological approaches to one’s own research questions.
6. To organize, adapt, and present one’s scholarship successfully for diverse audiences.

101F,S Introduction to Communication.
An introduction to the fundamental questions of the discipline. Investigates the role of symbolic communication, the essential features of interpersonal communication and group process, and the consequences of mediated communication. Theoretical examples draw on diverse communication practices that shape one's view of self and other. Ceisel (fall) Phelan (spring).

[104S] Transmedia Storytelling.
New developments in communication technology provide new ways of telling stories. Approaching culture as “the stories we tell ourselves about our selves” (Geertz, 1973), this class examines how synergistic media platforms alter the ways we engage with culture and society. The class will examine theories of knowledge and truth, and technological convergence to examine how new forms of communication technology and the “networked society” are shaping our cultural landscape. (Proseminar.) Maximum enrollment, 16.

[202S] Explorations in Communication.
An exploration of the fundamental questions regarding how human communication differs from the communication of other living creatures. Drawing on key readings from the communication discipline, students work collaboratively to discover what makes humans unique. Readings incorporate articles on human communication and scientific studies of birds, frogs, chimps, bees, elephants, among others. (Writing-intensive.) (Oral Presentations.) (Proseminar.) Maximum enrollment, 16.

[203] History of Communication.
Examines the symbolic forms and technological extensions of communication, from the evolution of human language to the emergence of digital technologies, and evaluates the relationship between dominant modes of communication and the cultures that shape and are shaped by those dominant forms. Examines the varied ways in which communication technologies have shaped political, social and economic structures, in addition to shifting perspectives on temporal and spatial orders, as exemplified by revolutions in communication technologies.

More information ...

[215] Argumentation.
Explores the basic principles of argumentative discourse including concepts such as spheres of influence, presumption, burden of proof, rhetorical forms of reasoning and evidence. Emphasis is on construction and deconstruction of arguments, the role of argumentation in society, incorporation of research into argumentative structures, and argumentative and persuasive speaking. Emphasis on crafting arguments tailored to a variety of outlets including print and presentation. (Writing-intensive.) (Oral Presentations.) Maximum enrollment, 20.

222F Interpersonal Communication.
Covers dynamics of relationship development, negotiation and construction of shared meaning, self concept and conflict management. Students study theory and engage in discussion and exercises designed to enhance their effectiveness in interpersonal communication and their understanding of its theoretical underpinnings. (Oral Presentations.) Prerequisite, 101 or 202. Dowd.

[230] Small-Group Communication.
From an individualistic perspective the study of small group processes presents three challenges. First, it is crucial to understand the significant role of groups in American society. Second, one must move beyond the interpersonal dimension to recognize the multi-faceted focus of the group. Third, the study of group process must address the complexity of cultural, political and social influences. Confronts these challenges through the study of cross-cultural perspectives, theoretical analysis and detailed hypothetical applications. (Writing-intensive.) (Oral Presentations.) Prerequisite, 101, 202, 280, 222. Maximum enrollment, 20.

More information ...

[246S] Media and Representation.
Examines popular culture as a form of social construction. Analyses the dominant tropes and stereotypes present in social discourse, and asks: How do we make sense of the parade of images presented before us? How and why does representation within popular culture matter? What does it mean to “represent the Other?” In this course we examine popular culture and the representation of race, gender, sexuality, and class from a critical cultural perspective.

[275S] Communication Ethics.
Examines the philosophical approaches to and practical implications of ethics in communication. Provides insight into the relevance and pervasiveness of communication ethics in everyday life through an examination of leading theorists and various ethical challenges, including responsibility, justice, transparency and autonomy. Students develop views on ethical issues, while applying ethical models to specific examples of communication in relationships, the workplace, politics, religion, mass media and digital media. Prerequisite, Comm 101.

280S Conflict Resolution: Policies and Stategies.
This course examines conflict from a variety of perspectives. We will investigate how arbitration, adjudication, and mediation differ, in addition to exploring how the policies and strategies of cultural and legal institutions dictate different approaches to mediation. Societies cope with conflict by enacting policies consistent with their culture and values. This course examines conflict resolution policies in the U.S. and abroad, including the legal system, the media, the educational sector, and international dispute resolution. Prerequisite, 101 or 222, or consent of instructor. (Same as Public Policy 280.) Maximum enrollment, 20. Phelan.

302F Communication Theory.
Examines theoretical perspectives and conceptual frameworks underpinning the study of communication and its disciplinary interests. Current theories and scholarly literatures are reviewed and applied to group presentations, weekly papers and a research paper. (Oral Presentations.) Open to concentrators, minors or with consent of instructor. Phelan.

303F Risk and Crisis Communication.
This course investigates the theory and research related to environmental, health, safety, agricultural, and corporate risks and crises. Students learn about issues such as risk assessment, risk perception, message design, crisis management, media relations, and barriers to effective risk and crisis communication. Students analyze how access to information, perceptions, and reactions to risk and crisis messages vary, depending on the audience. (Oral Presentations.) Prerequisite, Comm. 101 or 202. Dowd, M.

306S The Dark Side of Communication: Destructive Behavior.
This course examines interdisciplinary theory and research about the dark side of communication and provides a way of understanding that the dark side is inseparable from the brighter side of human communication. According to Spitzberg and Cupach (1998), interaction that takes place on the dark side of relational life includes dysfunctional, distressing, and destructive aspects of human action. The dark side also includes those mysterious elements of interactions that suggest things are seldom as they seem to be. The study of the dark side of communication draws attention to the ambivalent, multivalent, and multifunctional nature of communication with others. Research about the dark side emphasizes that all social processes unfold in ways that produce both gains and losses: gains that can appear to be losses as well as losses that may appear to be gains. In studying the dark side, we may eventually reveal our nature to be both brighter and darker than we have imagined. Prerequisite, Entry level course in communication, psychology, or sociology or consent of instructor. Dowd.

[308S] Transnational Cultural Citizenship.
Provides a historical overview of competing discourses about citizenship. Examines changes in the conception of the “citizen” in relationship to cultural trends and developments within the communications industry. Considers the importance of the multiplicity of identity within contemporary transnational society. An examination of modernity, cosmopolitanism, transnational media, celebrity culture, and globalization provide the foundations of class discussion. (Writing-intensive.) Maximum enrollment, 20.

309S International Communications: Policy, Production, and Reception.
This course examines media as a transnational phenomenon bounded by geopolitical arrangements within nation-states. The course provides a comparative analysis of media policies and systems across several nations. We will examine the role of media across the globe from the perspective of political economy and critical cultural studies. Central to the course will be exploration of how media policies shape content, the contribution of media to fostering regional, national, and transnational “imagined communities”, and how media and communications systems and content operate in a transnational context. (Writing-intensive.) Prerequisite, Entry level course in communication, government, sociology, or consent of instructor. Maximum enrollment, 20. C Ceisel.

[310S] Media Form and Theory.
Investigates the impact of mass media on American society in order to more clearly understand the problems of living in a world dominated by media technology. Examines relationships between various components of the media process, focusing on how media alters our understanding of politics, persons and communities. Prerequisite, one course in communication, government or sociology. (Same as American Studies 310.)

[314S] Communication Law: Freedom of Speech.
Detailed investigation of the first amendment. Study of case law which has contributed to the creation of a unique American perspective on the role of speech in a free society. Exploration of historical origins of the first amendment, political consequence and technological constraints. Legal distinctions regarding print, broadcast and electronic media focus on implications for the 21st century. (Oral Presentations.) Prerequisite, one course in communication, government or sociology. Open to seniors and juniors; sophomores and first-year students with permission.

More information ...

334S Psychology, Children, Media, and Technology.
How media and emerging technology influence basic psychological processes and child development. Focus on recent literature highlighting social media, video games, the Internet, educational technology, cell phones, advertisements, and other innovations. Topics include identity, body image, sexualization, aggression, addiction, cyberbullying, relationships, learning, health, and the mind. Emphasis on developmental psychology, but articles drawn from all areas. Class time will be devoted to discussion of research articles and chapters, current trends, and critical analysis of this new field. (Oral Presentations.) Prerequisite, Psych/Neuro 201. (Same as Psychology 334.) Sage.

[341S] Organizational Communication.
Investigates the symbolic processes at work within a dramatically changing organizational landscape, especially as communication technologies call for greater coordination, speed up the pace of work, distribute work processes and demand cross-cultural cooperation. Applies leading theoretical perspectives to analyze and evaluate the networks of communication within and with organizations, strategies of decision-making and problem solving, organizational missions and ethics, and conflict mediation. Prerequisite, one course in communication, psychology or sociology.

365F Persuasion.
Study of the ways people co-create meanings and influence each other through the strategic use and misuse of symbols. Includes the study of message- and audience-centered theories of persuasion, propaganda, persuasion’s place in democratic societies, and the roles of reason and emotion in the persuasion process. Students critique and produce persuasive discourses including public service announcements, political speeches, advertisements and news reports. (Oral Presentations.) Prerequisite, one 100- or 200-level communications course or consent of instructor. Dowd.

More information ...

370S Seminar: Privacy, Policy & Digital Communication.
This course focus on the concept of privacy in ways that encourage an ongoing semester long dialogue between a specific group of high school students and Hamilton students regarding their interest in and use of digital media. Our study will explore how American conventions concerning privacy are challenged by digital communication technologies. We will investigate how the concept of privacy is related the speech clause of the First Amendment, and seek to understand why that relationship is crucial for participation in democratic societies. In addition, with the assistance of a younger group of students, we will create a “privacy tool kit” that could be used in future semesters’ work. Maximum enrollment, 12. C W Phelan.

More information ...

380F Social History of Advertising.
Provides an historical overview of advertising and consumption within the US. Investigates the emergence of consumer culture and the advertising industry in the context of shifts from agrarian to industrial society. Addresses the social significance of consumption habits, the impact of advertising strategies from late 19th century to the present, the social, economic and political contexts that contributed to the emergence of particular marketing practices, and the impact of consumerism as a site of identity practices. Prerequisite, 101 or consent of instructor. Ceisel.

[451S] Seminar: Communication, Technology and Society.
Theoretical analysis of how communication technology alters social construction of time, space, community and identity. Readings detail historical precedents in order to address future implications of emerging technologies. Prerequisite, Communication 101 or consent of the instructor. Open to juniors and seniors. Maximum enrollment, 12.

455F Methods of Communication Research.
Overview of qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods of communication research. A detailed rationale for each approach offered and different approaches to communication research compared. Students analyze and compare current communication research and finish with a preliminary research proposal for the senior thesis. (Oral Presentations.) Prerequisite, open to concentrators, minors or consent of instructor. Phelan.

[500S] Senior Thesis.
A semester long research project, based on research proposals completed in the communication methods course.Required of all concentrators in the department and open to senior concentrators only. (Oral Presentations.) Prerequisite, 302, 455. open to concentrators only.