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Junior Seminars

PREREQUISITES: Junior Standing and MUST HAVE TAKEN COMM 10 and AT LEAST 1 of the COMM 100 courses

COMM 190 (A00)
Instructor: Louise Hickman
Title: Audiovisual Translation

Description: In this course, students will analyze the history and theory of the practice of audiovisual descriptions and have the opportunity to produce a description of a cultural object of their own choosing. These will range from visual, aural, performative, and digital descriptions for consumers with sensory disabilities. This course will draw on feminist film theory, science and technology studies and disability studies to consider the production of description in film and media.  


COMM 190 (B00)
Instructor: Caroline Jack
Title: Sponsored Content

Description: “Promoted” and “sponsored” posts are familiar sights to users of digital media. What does it mean for media content to be “sponsored,” and what can paid media content tell us about society and culture? Through individual and group work, students in this course will learn to identify and analyze paid media content, including native advertising, content marketing, and influencer partnerships. We will consider the social and cultural implications of paid content, putting today’s digital media in conversation with American historical traditions of media sponsorship, including film, exhibits, and print “advertorials.” We will explore how paid content reflects trends in American culture across areas including commerce, journalism, governance, and labor. Over the course of the semester, students will develop a case analysis through guided in-class and out-of-class research and reflection.


COMM 190 (C00)
Instructor: Shawna Kidman
Title: Feminism and Media

Description: Feminism and media have a long and fraught relationship. Pop culture forms that target women, like the soap opera, have frequently been criticized for supporting patriarchal principles. But there are exceptions to every rule. Over the course of the 20th century, television series, experimental films, radio dramas, YouTube videos, and a handful of other texts have found ways to speak to women in authentic, innovative, supportive, and energizing ways. This course will explore some of that cultural past. We'll read about and watch a variety of media texts—both popular and fringe—produced for or by women that can (by virtue of their production, reception, aesthetic, or narrative form) be read as "feminist." Assessing the utility of feminist media analysis, we'll seek to understand how culture intersects with the personal and social, and whether a feminist media culture is possible or even desirable.


COMM 190 (D00)
Instructor: Morana Alac
Title: Olfaction and Communication

Description: Scents and the sense of smell are considered to be particularly difficult to render and talk about. How do then those who talk about smell do it? To engage our communicative practices beyond readily available cultural structures, this seminar will examine how scientists, designers, perfumers, anthropologists, historians, museum curators, writers, and artists account for this ineffable sense.
COMM 190 (E00)
Instructor: David Serlin
Title: Touch as Communication

Description: This junior seminar explores human touch as a medium of communication and as a mode of interactive engagement that challenges our reliance on sensory modalities, such as sight and sound, typically associated with technology-based media. Students will examine touch within various historical, scientific, social, and political contexts, and develop individual projects that put critical thinking about touch and tactility at the center of their analysis and interpretation.


Intermediate Electives - Topics

COMM 113T (A00): Intermediate Topics in Communication
Instructor: Diego Cortes
Title: Communication, Representation, and Drug Trafficking   

Description: The objective of this class is to analyze critically the way in which the American popular culture has represented the production, trafficking, and consumption of illicit drugs, especially opium, marijuana, and cocaine. As some academics have pointed out (i.e. Boyd, 2002, Marez, 2004, Edberg, 2001, Alexander, 2010), media representations of drug trafficking have carried many negative social consequences, such as increasing civil conflicts in production zones, excusing the over-policing and mass incarceration of people from communities of color in the United States, criminalizing peasant and indigenous populations, promoting U.S. neocolonial interventions against countries from the Global South, and helping influential American figures, such as bankers, policymakers, law enforcement strategists, and wealthy consumers, to escape their responsibility for the proliferation of the drug business. 

This class will provide students with tools to understand drug trafficking, not as a matter of illegal foreign organizations (i.e., Mexican and Colombian cartels), but as a transnational, conflictive, and highly profitable business in which all kinds of actors are involved, from peasant producers in the third world to powerful bankers in financial centers worldwide. To establish a theoretical and analytical basis for this analysis, we will begin by discussing some theories about the importance of media representation. Following, we will discuss the history of drug trafficking, starting with native and indigenous people views on coca, marihuana, and opium, and the subsequent understanding of European colonial powers on these products. The course will continue with an analysis of the 19 century Opium War, the prohibitionist years during the 20th century, and the social, political and economic repercussion of the Nixon’s declaration on the “War on Drugs” in the United States and abroad. In parallel, we will discuss popular productions - especially documentaries and films - related to these topics, to understand the differences and similarities between historical events and their representations. 


COMM 113T (B00): Intermediate Topics in Communication
Instructor: Andrew Whitworth-Smith
Title: Global Media Flows

Description: This course adopts an interdisciplinary approach to the study of global media with particular attention to the nature and consequences of globalization. Through exploring different empirical case studies from around the world, and engaging with various theoretical traditions of global communication, students will begin to understand the forces shaping the global circulation of different texts (televisual, filmic, literary) and the effect of this circulation on the cultural communities that produce and consume them. What political and economic forces propel and shape the phenomenon of globalization? How do concepts, like “hybridity”, “cultural translation”, and “counterflows” help to identity and analyze the social and cultural consequences of global media flows?

Advanced Electives - Topics

COMM 132: Advanced Topics in Communication
Instructor: Fernando Dominguez Rubio
Title: Urban Infrastructures & Citizenship

Description: In this course, we will explore how urban infrastructures define different understandings and models of citizenship. We will do so by focusing on different aspects of the built environment, from sidewalks and buildings, to roads and other infrastructures to show how these physical elements do not simply play a functional or decorative role, but they also play a key role in defining the quality of public and political life as well as in creating different modes of inclusion and exclusion. 


COMM 146: Advanced Topics in Communication
Instructor: Angela Booker
Title: TBD