My Teaching

As a teacher, I believe the primary burden of learning in the classroom rests with you. I insist you take your course from me seriously, attend class, and participate in the class discussions. The nature of the reading varies greatly from course to course.

Courses for Undergraduate Students only

These courses enroll only undergraduate students. Typically, the students enrolled are from throughout the university. Although the courses attract sophomores through seniors, most enrollment are juniors and seniors. Undergraduate students should also see the courses below.

COMM 401: Interpreting Strategic Discourse

This course teaches various ways to read discourse to understand its meaning and powers. The course provides opportunities to study examples of strategic discourse from throughout the twentieth century.

COMM 469A: The Discourse of Social Movements: Civil Rights

The course studies the speeches and documents of the movement constructed by Americans of African ancestry in the 1950s and 1960s. The approach is to understand each of the messages as a response to their historical and rhetorical situation.

COMM 498e: Eight Leaders, Eight Speeches

The purpose of this course is to learn about the power of speaking at key moments when leaders are called upon to face great challenges. Students in this course study only eight speeches, thus providing the liberty of approximately two weeks on each speech. The speeches chosen are among the most powerful ever delivered in American history and include speeches of political leaders, movement and moral leaders, delivered in political, legal, and other public situations. Student research teams will research various aspects of each speech and then we will bring that work into focused discussions of those speeches. I will help each team with its research work. The course will be graded on the basis of research efforts and a final examination.

COMM 498i: The Rhetoric of the Internet

This special topics course examines the internet as a rhetorical space considering the rhetorical aspects of the internet and the influence of the internet on social rhetoric.

Courses for Undergraduate and Graduate students

These courses teach through various mixtures of lecture and discussion. The level of the courses is advanced undergraduate and beginning graduate student. Typically acquisition of material is tested by examination and ability to work with the things learned is evaluated through a term paper.

COMM 453: The Power of Discourse in American Life

This course introduces contemporary ideas about the powers of language in everyday life. The first third of the semester explains the viewpoint of contemporary rhetoric on the powers of language. The remainder of the semester contains a series of applications of the perspective to modern life.

COMM 460: Public Life in American Communities, 1634-1900

People make public life with their voices. In our public life we reach beyond ourselves to join our friends and neighbors in seeking those goals we share, addressing those problems we believe we should solve together, and making a life together. How to seek this public life is not always clear in modern America. This course examines how American communities of the past, from the Puritans of New England to the small towns and urban workers of 1900, have joined together to pursue a common life.

COMM 461: Voices of Public Leadership in the Twentieth Century

The voice is a source of power. The twentieth century illustrated that power. Two themes dominated the century: the search for leaders who could use their voices for the good of the community in which they lived, and the search to empower more and more people by giving them voices that would be heard. This course concentrates on those two themes in understanding the use of discourse in the 20th century.

COMM 498O: Barack Obama, Speaker

An exploration of Obama’s unique qualities and style as a public speaker through study of a series of his most important speeches. Study of various perspectives from which to illuminate the character of public speeches by leaders.

Courses for Graduate Students

My objective is to teach my graduate courses as seminars. This places the focus on the student to involve themselves in the subject matter of the course. The primary objective in these courses is not to acquire material, but to make yourself an active researcher.

COMM 652: Contemporary Rhetorical Theory

The last third of the twentieth century has marked a dramatic retheorizing of the power of human symbolic interaction. This course is designed to lead to your involvement in that exciting activity. Reading focuses on seven characteristic moves in contemporary rhetoric and the directions those moves have taken us.

COMM 661: Communication and Social Change

A viewpoint on the role of communication in changing social form. The course takes a theory/praxis approach to the various modes of change from conservative political change to epistemic change.

COMM 700: Introduction to Graduate Study in Communication

COMM 711: Historical/Critical Methods in Communication Research

COMM 712: Advanced Historical/Critical Methods

A workshop in criticism. Focus on this course is on the life of a critic. You are actively involved in doing criticism. Critical logic, specific strategies in writing, and developing critical sensitivities are the focus.

COMM 758B: Special Topics in Rhetorical Theory: Kenneth Burke

A special topics course focusing on one of the great humanists of the Twentieth Century who has been particularly influential on the field of rhetorical studies.

Forms and information for my students

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