Current Course Descriptions

Rhetoric Department Course Descriptions

Spring 2021


COM-125 Fundamentals of Public Speaking (Dr. Nathan Hodges)
MWF 2:30-3:30
"According to most studies, people's number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you're better off in the casket than doing the eulogy." - Jerry Seinfield

Being in front of strangers expressing yourself and hoping these individuals staring back at you will validate your voice and find some resonance with your words, is something that can, does, and should provoke discomfort and apprehension. This class will not bury your public speaking fears. Instead we'll learn how to reframe and channel these fears toward connecting with audiences and establishing a sense of community. We participate in and change the public through sharing our voices, even when (perhaps especially when) circumstances provoke discomfort. Throughout the semester you'll prepare and deliver presentations in various genres, analyze audiences, evaluate performances, and provide feedback. As we discover and develop our voices, our goal is to learn how to be more comfortable being uncomfortable.

COM-151 Introduction to New Media Studies (Dr. Shawn Harmsen)
TR 2:10-3:40 (online)
The changes in technology in the past two decades have altered the ways we create, display, and circulate messages. Not only do we have new technologies and platforms online, but all of the traditional forms of mass media likewise have transformed to keep up with the new reality.  This course looks at the new mediascape, explores questions of what it means to live in a society driven by these messages, and introduces students to ways they can apply scholarship and research beyond the classroom and into the world. Writing Emphasis

COM-237 Interpersonal Communication (Prof. Danette Patton)
MWF 12:10-1:10 (online)
Examines the influence in interpersonal relationships of ethnicity, gender, family, and class on self-concept, perception, emotions, and verbal and non-verbal expression. Students practice specific techniques that facilitate building positive relationships, including such issues as clear language usage, supportive climate building, and conflict resolution. Writing Emphasis.

COM-241 Introduction to Multimedia Journalism (Dr. Shawn Harmsen)
TR 9:10-10:40 (online)
Students taking this course will explore a variety of tools to create news stories they will then post into the news blog they will create for this course.  Over the course of the semester, students will get a chance to learn some basic techniques for capturing and editing still photos, audio, and video content.  This course will also introduce students to the proper use and creation of infographics and other tools.  Finally, students in this class will get a chance to explore the ethics and practices that guide the decisions behind reporting in this class and out in the world. Writing Emphasis

COM-341 Digital Storytelling (Dr. Shawn Harmsen)
TR 12:30-2:00 (online)
Storytelling is as old as humankind, but the digital tools we can use to tell those stories opens new doors to those storytellers.  In this class, students will get to use some of those tools to create a variety of projects - ranging from a class drama to individual works using digital audio and video. Writing Emphasis. Prerequisites: Introduction to Multimedia Journalism (COM-241) or Journalism and Media Writing Workshop (RHE-225).

COM-357 Sex, Race, and Gender in the Media (Prof. Danette Patton)
TR 12:30-2:00 (online)
An introduction to analysis of representations of identities such as gender, race, sexual orientation, and the body in mass media. As such, this course examines some of the relationships between the media in the U.S. and the social constructions of race, gender, and sexuality. Students view, read about, analyze, and discuss various forms of mass media and look at what those forms represent. An underlying understanding within the course is recognition of the inextricable interconnections of gender, race, and sexuality. Writing Emphasis.

COM-361 Communication and Social Change (Dr. Nathan Hodges)
MWF 1:20-2:20 
We'll begin the semester by broadly examining communication as a vehicle for social change before honing in on comedy - specifically the performance of satire - as a "playfully serious" frame and mode of expression for changing people's thoughts, perceptions, and beliefs. You will have opportunities to analyze satirical performances and craft your own. Prerequisite: junior standing or consent of instructor

COM-381 Research Methods in Communication Studies (Dr. Nathan Hodges)
TR 2:10-3:40
Provides a primer on qualitative research in the communication studies discipline - particularly methods emphasizing self-reflexivity, storytelling, and connecting the personal to the social, before honing in on autoethnography – a research method in which the researcher’s life, interactions with others, and group/cultural memberships are studied. You will write about particular personal experiences, reflecting upon and analyzing the experiences, to provide socio-cultural, historical, political, scientific, and theoretical context. The culminating project in the course is a full-scale autoethnography that will go through several rounds of revision and feedback before being presented to peers. Writing Emphasis. Prerequisites: Rhetorical Theory & Practice (RHE-200)

COM455/57 Special Topics in Media Studies: Afrofuturism (Prof. Danette Patton)
TR 10:50-12:20
This class explores Afrofuturism as speculative fiction that includes various genres such as fantasy, romance, and science fiction that do not represent real world experiences. Authors and artists challenge and change what’s real or possible in our current society, then speculate on the outcome. Afrofuturism reimagines such things as race, gender, sexuality, class, and nationality through literature, music, film, and visual art. Throughout the semester we will examine the ways that black authors and artists have used elements of the speculative genres in order to re-envision the past, present, and future of Black lives. In doing so, they complicate the power and privilege of racial identification, thus presenting alternative visions of the futures of black bodies. Throughout the semester we will unpack things such as Afrofuturism of Black Panther and how artists such as Janelle Monáe and Lil Nas X have adapted an Afrofuturistic style in their reimaginations of blackness. Writing Emphasis

RHE-175 Writer's Studio (Dr. Allison Carr)
MWF 8:40-9:40, first seven weeks of term (0.5 credit, online)
A small-group workshop course to help students develop basic writing and revision skills, grounded in research about writing process. May be taken more than once for credit for a maximum of 1.0 credit. Writing Emphasis. Note: No more than 1.0 credit may be earned by enrolling in RHE-175 and RHE-275.

RHE-255 The Essay (Dr. Jane Nesmith)
MWF 9:50-10:50 
This course explores a classic nonfiction form, the essay. In essays, writers tell their stories, consider their world, and share their reflections. Our reading in this class will acquaint us with the work of published essay-writers from the past and present. As we read, we'll consider how these writers use rhetorical craft and storytelling techniques to create a written work that draws readers in.

We'll use what we learn from published writers to apply to our own essay writing. The subject matter of our essays will be our own experience, memories and interests, and we'll learn to create memorable experiences for readers. We will compose a portfolio of essays--some short, some longer--through frequent writing and substantial revising.

The Essay counts toward the majors and minors in Writing and Creative Writing, and would be of interest to anyone wishing to develop fluency, style, and depth in their writing. Writing Emphasis.

RHE-275 Advanced Writer's Studio (Dr. Allison Carr)
MWF 8:40-9:40, second seven weeks of term (0.5 credit, online)
A small-group workshop course for experienced writers focused on helping writers discover and adapt their own writing process(es) for multiple genres. May be taken more than once for credit for a maximum of 1.0 credit. Writing Emphasis. Note: No more than 1.0 credit may be earned by enrolling in RHE-175 and RHE-275.

RHE-284/SCJ-190 Topics in Writing and Rhetoric: Rhetoric of Incarceration (Dr. Gina Hausknecht)
MWF 11:00-12:00 (online)
Students in this course will learn about experiences of incarceration and the criminal legal system in the United States through documentaries, memoirs, and other writings by and about individuals who are currently or formerly incarcerated, as well those who have worked within prisons in educational and arts programs. Students will respond to these texts in writing and discussion with focus on critical analysis of how crime, criminality, punishment, justice, and abolition are represented, the ethics and impact of those representations, and the role of witness and testimony in creating and influencing public discourse. Experiential components of the course will include virtual visits by authors and practitioners, and individual projects that will have a public audience of some kind. Active engagement synchronously and asynchronously, regular reading and writing, and commitment to learn both independently and in community with classmates expected. Writing Emphasis

RHE 312 Writing Center Theory and Practice (Dr. Jane Nesmith)
R 8:30-9:20 (section 01, 0.3 credit)
W 12:-12:50 (section 02, 0.3 credit)
Focuses on pedagogy, tutoring techniques, research, presentation strategies, and the conventions and strategies in composition and communication. Designed for Writing Center personnel, instruction takes place in weekly group meetings and individual conferences. May be taken more than once for credit for a maximum of 1.2 credits. Writing Emphasis

RHE-415 Advanced Writing Workshop (Dr. Allison Carr)
MWF 12:10-1:10 (online)
A multi-genre workshop course for the serious writer. Course will be organized along two parallel paths. The first path supports students in the study of and reflection on emerging, provocative theories about writing; the second path supports students in the drafting and revision of a substantial portfolio of polished work (length to be determined by the genre(s) of the writing contained therein). Writing Emphasis. Prerequisites: junior standing and completion of two courses counting toward the writing major or minor.