COMM 461
Spring 2013

 

Assignments

Getting to know the 20th Century

There are a number of ways those living in our area can become more familiar with the 20th century, the context for our study.

  • Visits to historical sites. There are a number of sites in the Washington area where speeches we will study this semester were given. These include the Lincoln Memorial where Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech was given, the United States Capitol where a number of our speeches were given either on the floor of the Senate or in the well of the House. There are others as well. To fulfill this option you will visit sites where speeches are given or other sites of 20th century history relevant to the course and write a report on your visit. That report should: (1) describe what you learned at the site and (2) how the site changed the way you understand some discourse you have studied this semester. Remember when you visit the the capital to check security requirements before you go.

  • Videoexperiences. There may well be programs broadcast by the History Channel or on the "American Experience" series on PBS that provide insight into the context for some of the speeches we study. Many of these videos are available in our library; some are available on line; others are available for purchase. Some may even be rebroadcast. These programs or videotapes are typically from one hour to six hours in length. There are also a few films that can work for this assignment, but handle this carefully. If it is not on the website list, check it out with me. I will give you my recommendation on whether I think you will be able to do the assignment on the film or not. You may watch one of these programs, then write a report in which you: (1) describe what you learned related to one of the units of our course through the videotape, and (2) how the videoexpereince changed the way you understand some discourse you have studied this semester.

  • Museum Visits. A number of museums in the Washington area feature exhibits related to 20th Century socio-political life and leadership, although with the economic conditions many are not currently offering exhibits on the 20th century. The National Museum of American History does not at the moment have obvious exhibits that will assist us. The Smithsonian's Museum of American Art has a Reagan exhibit that is fairly thin. In fact, some of the lesser known museums may be best at the moment. The Woodrow Wilson House is open for visits in NW Washington. But you might want to check out other ideas you have with me. Another good option is the King and FDR memorials on the mall. The Newseum may also be an option but has a very expensive admission fee. Following your visit to one of these sites, write a report in which you: (1) describe what you learned related to one of the units of our course through the visit, and (2) how the visit changed the way you understand some discourse you have studied this semester.

  • Book Reports. Or you can do a good old fashioned book report. Read a historical study of some event or speaker in the 20th century. Write a report in which you: (1) describe what you learned related to one of the units of our course through the visit, and (2) how the book changed the way you understand some discourse you have studied this semester.

  • Interview an older relative or friend. Identify a relative or friend who lived through the Depression of the 1930s, World War II, the Cold War, the Civil Rights Movement, or the Feminist movement of the 1970s. This could be one of your parents, or grandparents, an aunt or uncle, or it could be an elderly neighbor whose day you would make by being interested in their life. Sit down with them for about an hour and ask them to talk about that time. Ask them some questions stimulated by your knowledge of that time. Write a report in which you: (1) describe what you learned related to one of the units of the course from your informant, and (2) how that interview changed the way you understand some discourse you studied this semester.

  • Public Programs. One of the fortunate things about living on a campus and in the Washington area are the opportunities to attend programs in which noted authors and historians talk about events of the 20th century.  You may attend one of these programs and write a report on what you learned from it.  It may be a good idea for you to inquire from me about whether the program looks like it would be a good one to facilitate your work on this assignment.  Write a report in which you: (1) describe what you learned related to one of the units of the course from the program, and (2) how the program changed the way you understand some discourse you studied this semester.

Other things may come up as the semester goes along that would suffice to meet this assignment. Such options will be posted on the website. You also can check any possibility with me. From previous uses of this assignment there are four other restrictions that should be explicit:

  1. The grade is earned from the learning that the outside activity fosters, not from the activity itself. So, make certain you are learning while you are experiencing and can express what you have learned.
  2. Activities will be easier to write about if you do them simultaneous with or after we have talked about the community in class related to that particular activity.
  3. You may find opportunities that are not included on the website. You may do those after clearing them with me, but clearing them with me (specifically via email) is a good idea.
  4. Please notice that just visiting websites does not fulfill the requirement. You may look at websites in conjunction with a visit, a museum, a program or a book. But these websites should merely supplement your activity. I expect to see learning beyond that provided by a "virtual tour" as I read your report.

You need to submit one report each month: February, March, and April. There is no due date, although obviously if you wait until the last class of the month to submit your assignment this becomes the due date and makes the assignment into a "major scheduled grading event." No late reports will be accepted. Your three reports must be drawn from at least two of the types of reports listed above. The report should be typed or word processed, and be 250-500 words (1-2 pages).

Grading

Reports will be graded S/U. An "S" will indicate that you have provided me evidence of the two criteria specified above for your type of submission. Also notice that you must do at least two different types of activities.

The semester grade (ten percent of the total grade) will be calculated according to the following: one "S" = C; two = B; three = A.