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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.

2020-21 Theory and Methods Course Offerings 

COGR 201D: Historical Methods
Fall 2020
Instructor: David Serlin

Different approaches to conducting historical research in communication. Such approaches may include the social history of communication technology; structuralist and poststructuralist accounts of language, media, and collective memory; and new historicist treatments of cultural history. Sources, documentation, and the nature of argument from historical evidence are emphasized. 

COGR 257: Communication and Social Theory 
Fall 2020
Instructor: Thomas Schmidt

Social theory forms the theoretical foundation for much work in communication, including political communication, questions of the public and public opinion, propaganda and ideology. The course will consider Marx, Weber, Durkheim, Simmel, Dewey, Habermas, the Frankfurt School and its critics. 

COGR 275: Borderlands: Theory and Method
Fall 2020
Instructor: Elana Zilberg

The seminar considers borders - geo-political, intra-national, more than-human, aesthetic and conceptual – as charged sites from which to approach communication and conflict across scales and through theory and praxis. Our regional geo-political border is necessarily foregrounded, both for its geographic proximity and its centrality in the genealogy of Borderland Studies. However, the course pushes beyond the literal and potentially parochial through a serious consideration of distinct border zones, historical and ethnographic, geo-political and otherwise. Students are encouraged to think comparatively, and to draw on readings and discussions to further their own research in a collaborative and supportive environment.

COGR 201L: Qualitative Analysis of Information Systems
Winter 2021
Instructor: Lillian Walkover

Historical and ethnographic studies of information systems—the design and use of information and communication technologies in their social, ethical, political, and organizational dimensions. Objects of study range from the invention of file folders to email use and distributed databases as communication systems.

COGR 237: Performance Theory
Winter 2021
Instructor: Patrick Anderson

Course is designed to introduce graduate students to the disciplinary, intellectual, and artistic genealogies of performance studies that bring together critical work from the fields of anthropology, art history, communication, critical gender studies, ethnic studies, film studies, literature, and theatre studies. 

COGR 275: Sensory Studies: Olfaction
Winter 2021
Instructor: Morana Alac

This is a sensory studies class focused on the sense of smell. We will discuss challenges and opportunities that studying the senses presents. You will learn how to engage conceptual questions from your groundedness in the world.


COGR 241: Geography and Communication
Spring 2021
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: Feminist Theory
Spring 2021
Instructor: Boatema Boateng

 

Recent Methods Course Offerings (COGR 201)

COGR 201J: Comparative Analysis
Fall 2019
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.


201M: Content Analysis
Winter 2019
Instructor: Dan Hallin

History uses methodology of quantitative analysis of media content. Includes conceptual issues concerning the quantification of meaning and practical procedures for coding and data analysis. Students read examples of studies using content analysis and carry out their own pilot analyses. 


COGR 201: Crafting Research
Winter 2020
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.


COGR 201B: Ethnographic Methods for Communication Research 
Spring 2020
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.


Recent
Theory Course Offerings 


COGR 237: Performance Theory
Fall 2018
Instructor: Patrick Anderson

Course is designed to introduce graduate students to the disciplinary, intellectual, and artistic genealogies of performance studies that bring together critical work from the fields of anthropology, art history, communication, critical gender studies, ethnic studies, film studies, literature, and theatre studies. 


COGR 241: Geography and Communication
Spring 2019
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 255: Studies in Political Theory
Spring 2020
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 275: Feminisms in Critical Dialogue
Fall 2019
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
Winter 2020
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 275: Object Theories
Spring 2019
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. 


COGR 284: Time
Spring 2020
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.