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Graduate Theory and Methods Courses

Graduate students are required to take a selection of theoretical and methodological courses as part of our program requirements. COGR 275 and most other graduate level courses in our department are taught as special seminars offering graduate students the opportunity to take part in group discussions about a specific topic. COGR 201 courses focus on theory-driven methodologies. While the course number and/or title might remain the same, the content of these courses changes depending on which faculty teach them. Our faculty work closely with graduate students to ensure their academic needs are met and are open to designing new courses or revising previous courses based on the needs of the current student population.

The following courses have been offered in recent years and many continue to be offered annually. Please contact the course instructor if you want to learn more about when and how this course might be offered in the future. 

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If you are looking for Communication courses offered this academic year visit our Quarterly Descriptions for Seminars and Topics Courses page

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If you are looking for Communication courses previously offered in the last year, use this link:

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If you are looking for the proposed course schedule for the 2020-2021 academic year use this link:

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Methods Courses (COGR 201)

Comparative Analysis

Instructor: Dan Hallin

The logic of comparative analysis and its role in communication research. Scientific inference in qualitative research. Selection of cases. Problems of translation across cultures.

Crafting Research

Instructor: Gary Fields

This course focuses on the crafting of dissertation research in the social sciences and humanities. As a doctoral seminar, the course represents a kind of personal reflection on the methodological challenges embedded in a major research project stemming from the recent experience of the instructor in completing a lengthy comparative historical geography of land conflict across three case studies. Based on this experience, the course aims to chart a different direction for teaching and learning about methods across different disciplines.

Most courses devoted to methods focus on a canon of knowledge deriving from texts best described as ‘primers’ for doing research. While such literature has its uses, reading it can be a turgid exercise. By contrast, this seminar will feature some of the most engaging, influential and even controversial literature in humanities and social sciences as the anchor for learning about methods. Although we will critique these readings for substance, our attention will be on the methodological architecture of these texts exemplified by the following types of questions: How did authors frame a research question and set-up their arguments? How did they situate their research within a body of literature? What kinds of archives did authors enlist for evidence in support of the claims in the arguments? What were the different types of data and evidence collected by authors? What was the organizational structure of the work in terms of chapters or subheadings? What was the “voice” of the narrative in the text? What were the challenges – logistical and conceptual -- confronting authors in gathering evidence to support the argument? What theories did authors use in developing their narratives? What is a case study and when is it appropriate to compare different cases? How did the authors justify the importance of their research? These kinds of questions will frame the agenda of the course, highlighted each week by a specific methodological theme.

Ethnographic Methods for Communication Research

Instructor: Elana Zilberg

A supervised and coordinated group project will allow students to develop competence in a variety of ethnographic approaches to communication. Subjects covered include choosing a fieldwork site, setting or process for participation; entry and development of relationships; techniques of observation, interviewing, note taking, and transcription. Course may also include photography and video as research tools. All participant observation and interviewing strategies fall under the review of the Committee on Human Subjects.

Ethnographic Methods for Communication Research 

Instructor: Boatema Boateng

A supervised and coordinated group project will allow students to develop competence in a variety of ethnographic approaches to communication. Subjects covered include choosing a fieldwork site, setting or process for participation; entry and development of relationships; techniques of observation, interviewing, note taking, and transcription. Course may also include photography and video as research tools. All participant observation and interviewing strategies fall under the review of the Committee on Human Subjects.

Theory Courses (COGR 275 and others)

COGR 255: Studies in Political Theory

Instructors: Valerie Hartouni and Robert Horwitz

Considers classical and contemporary texts in primarily western political thought with an eye toward understanding how such theory is and/or might be brought to bear in grounding different approaches and agendas in the study of communication.

COGR 284: Time

Instructor: Stefan Tanaka

This seminar will introduce key issues and readings in our understanding of time. Time is historical, not natural. We will examine ways that modern time structures and orders human interaction.

COGR 275: Feminisms in Critical Dialogue

Instructor: Boatema Boateng

This course undertakes a theoretical and political history of feminist scholarship. It considers the ways in which such scholarship has expanded in part due to contests over the bases of feminist knowledge production. It takes into account points of contention and dialogue including challenges from Black and Third World feminists, as well as demands for attention to issues like sexuality, performativity, and intersectionality. The course provides students with a foundation for identifying a body of feminist literature tailored to their individual research interests and goals.

COGR 275: Ecological Thinking/ Thinking Ecologies

Instructor: Fernando Dominguez Rubio

This course, co-designed by Fernando Domínguez Rubio (UCSD) and Marisol de la Cadena (UCD), is intended to be a foray into ecological thinking. The course asks one question: What can ecological thinking do? We will address this question by engaging with the work of a diverse array of classic and contemporary authors, including Charles Darwin, Masao Abe, Karl Marx, Isabelle Stengers, Vinciane Despret, or Achille Mbembe.

COGR 275 Mediated Ability: [Dis]ability and Audio-Visual Culture

Instructor: Brian Goldfarb

Description: This seminar considers the role media play in how ability and disability is conceived, represented, and negotiated. Through weekly readings and discussions participants will examine theoretical approaches at the intersection of disability studies and media studies. Our discussions will be framed in relation to a range of empirical examples from screenings of mainstream and alternative film/video, educational and internet-based media as well as examination of assistive technologies. Beyond critiques of representation, we will consider the ways that media technologies and practices structure embodiment, experience and affective dimensions of (dis)ability. We will also devote attention to the co-constitutive nature of discourses of gender, class, race, nationality, and disability.

COGR 241 Geography and Communication

Instructor: Matilde Cordoba Azcarate

Geographies as media of political cultural communication. Not simply mapping but also territorial engineering as a way of constituting geographical significance. Cross-mapping practices—intersecting representational practices—as political forms of communication. Geographies as visual practices of power. 

COGR 275 Object Theories

Instructor: Fernando Dominguez Rubio

What is an object? Why do objects matter? The aim of this course will be to answer these questions by exploring some of the ways in which objects have been conceptualized, studied, feared or ignored across a variety of disciplines, historical periods and geographies.