Communication Studies Courses

COMS 130 Introduction to Interpersonal Communication

4 hours

A course dealing with the basic concepts of person-to-person communication, such as the relationship between verbal and nonverbal language, the intent and result of message sharing, the variables in communicative efforts. (HB)

COMS 132 Public Address

4 hours

A study of the principles of speech composition, organization, and delivery; emphasis on the role of public address in a democratic society. Each student gives a series of speeches. (HE, S)

COMS 133 Introduction to Mass Media

4 hours

This course studies the evolution of mass media and its relationship with our culture. In addition to gaining an understanding of mass media, students will critique various forms of media, and explore basic writing skills necessary for media production. (HBSSM, W)

COMS 139, 239, 339, 439 Special Topics

Credit arr.

COMS 185 First-Year Seminar

4 hours

A variety of seminars for first-year students offered each January Term.

COMS 233 Rhetoric of Spirituality

4 hours

Engaging a variety of spiritual traditions (e.g., Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Taoism, Wicca, New Ageism), this course explores the relationship between communication, U. S. American popular culture, and the constitution of spiritual practice. Throughout the course, students study how popular spiritual texts contribute to the creation and maintenance of self, other, and spiritual ideologies. Offered alternate years. (HE)

COMS 234 Rhetoric of Everyday Life

4 hours

This course examines the intersection of rhetoric, identity formation, and cultural contexts. During the course of the semester, students explore the way in which active human agents employ everyday rhetorical texts (e.g. conversation, instant messaging, fashion, home decor, music, art) as a means of constituting, negotiating, and transforming the cultures and communities in which they live. The course provides a variety of theoretical frameworks for understanding everyday human interaction as significant meaning-making event and active site of the rhetorical performance of self, other, power, authority, and place. (HE)

COMS 236 Small Group Communication

4 hours

A study of the purposes, types, processes, and behavioral dynamics of small group interaction. Covers theory and research with special attention to the dynamics, leadership, and the task dimension of groups. Each student participates in several groups. (HB)

COMS 246 The Internet and American Life

4 hours

This course explores the history and development of the internet and the various communication media that have emerged from it, such as e-mail, websites, blogs, IM, listservs, mobile networks, podcasts, multi-player online games, virtual environments, etc. Through reading and discussion, students will consider how these technologies have impacted daily life, interpersonal relationships, and American culture. (HBSSM)

COMS 247 Electronic News Gathering

4 hours

In the modern technological environment, journalists construct the news for a variety of media in a style that is fast-paced, visual, and highly standardized. This project-based course explores the process of establishing a story focus, gathering appropriate audio and video, scripting, presentation, and final editing to produce spot news packages. At the same time, students will be challenged to critique both the process, as well as the structure of the news industry, and to consider social, legal, ethical, and aesthetic issues that affect audience perceptions of newsworthy events. Offered alternate years. Prerequisite: COMS 133. (S, W)

COMS 252 Business Communication

4 hours

This course introduces the fundamentals of communication in a business environment. Topics include audience analysis, organization, drafting, revising, presentation, and visual aids. Students will analyze and write essential types of business documents such as memoranda, letters, and e-mails. Students also report research findings in oral presentations. Offered alternate years. (W)

COMS 255 Advanced Public Address

4 hours

This course delves into the rhetorical tradition of the U.S. through a study of significant historical and contemporary speeches and their respective audiences. An understanding of rhetorical situations and responses culminates in an advanced public speaking experience. Students will write and deliver speeches at the end of the semester. Prerequisite: COMS 132. Offered alternate years. (HEPT, S)

COMS 258 Concepts of Media Production

4 hours

A project-based course that explores the capabilities and limitations of various electronic media as vehicles for informing, persuading, or inspiring. With emphasis on writing and planning skills appropriate to each medium, the course will utilize actual production experiences to introduce basic camera and lighting techniques, fundamentals of sound recording, principles of screen composition, and essentials of editing. Prerequisites: COMS 132 and 133, or consent of the instructor. (S)

COMS 260 Sport, Media and Society

4 hours

This course draws from scholarly work being done in media studies and the sociology of sport in order to examine the important cultural, social, and political roles of sport in contemporary society. The focus is on how sport, as well as mediated sport, can be approached critically and read in different ways. The course includes lectures on audiences, masculinity, and commercialism, as well as screenings and discussion.

COMS 270 Rethinking Freedoms of Religion, Speech, and Press

4 hours

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees freedom of speech and the press, along with freedoms of religion and assembly. Often, news media test the boundaries of these freedoms with controversial stories and biased reporting that raises questions of journalistic ethics. This course reviews the history of the First Amendment with a particular focus on media law and Supreme Court decisions, and examines the ethics of news reporting on controversial matters. (Hist, HB)

COMS 280 Communication and Aging

4 hours

This course will acquaint students with theory and research to increase understanding of the role of communication in the aging process. Topics covered include the social construction of age, stereotypes and myths, media portrayals, media usage, intergenerational communication in the family and workforce, the relationships of elderly within peer cohorts, and health communication during the life span. Learning will occur through readings, discussion, projects, and media analysis. No prerequisite. (HB)

COMS 285/295 Directed Study

2, 4 hours

An opportunity to pursue individualized or experiential learning with a faculty member, at the sophomore level or above, either within or outside the major. COMS 285 can be taken only during January Term, COMS 295 can be taken during the fall, spring, or summer terms.

COMS 320 Urban America and Serial Television: Critically Analyzing "The Wire"

4 hours

Frequently hailed as a masterpiece of American television, The Wire shines a light on urban decay in contemporary America, creating a dramatic portrait of Baltimore's police, drug trade, shipping docks, city hall, public schools, and newspapers over five serialized seasons. In this course, we will watch and discuss all of this remarkable—and remarkably entertaining—series, and place it within the dual contexts of contemporary American society and the aesthetics of television. This course focuses on close viewing and discussion, and opportunities for critical analysis and research about the show's social contexts and aesthetic practices. (HEPT)

COMS 330 Family Communication

4 hours

In this course, students will examine the role of communication in families, how families shape us as individuals, and how the context of family functions in larger society. Through reading scholarship on family communication, discussion, projects and presentations, we will address questions such as how definitions of family have changed over time, how individuals define self in relation to family members, how challenges in families are managed, how differences in family forms influence family function, and how communication patterns affect how we interact with and understand each other. Ultimately, this course investigates individual human behavior and human interactions within the societal context of the family. Prerequisite: COMS 130. (HB)

COMS 335 Masculinity in Film

4 hours

This course takes a feminist perspective to analyze portrayals of sex and gender in film with a particular emphasis on how men and masculinity can be represented. The focus is on how films construct different notions of gender, how films can be read in different ways, and to what social uses film portrayals may be put. The course includes lectures on film criticism, gender theory, and theories of representation, as well as screenings and discussion. Offered alternate years. Prerequisite: COMS 133 or WGST 130. (Same as WGST 335) (HE)

COMS 342 Feminist Rhetorical Theories

4 hours

This course is a study of feminist rhetorical theories and expression. The class reads texts by feminist rhetorical theorists and rhetors. Special emphasis is placed on the intersection between social, cultural, and economic contexts, political influences, and rhetorical strategies of women rhetors challenging Western patriarchy. This course counts as theory requirement for the WGST major. Prerequisites: COMS 132 or WGST 130 or consent of instructor. (Same as WGST 342.) Offered alternate years. (HBSSM, HE, Hist, S, W)

COMS 348 Radio Journalism

4 hours

The course addresses the history, theory, and practice of American radio journalism. Topics of study include interviewing, news writing and reporting, hosting, documentary making, sound collecting, and studio and field production techniques. The course follows primarily the model of noncommercial American radio journalism, especially National Public Radio and Public Radio International. Students learn both to critically evaluate the work of others and to produce their own examples of these forms of radio journalism. It is strongly recommended that students who enroll in this course have at least one semester of on-air experience with Luther College radio station KWLC. Offered alternate years. (S)

COMS 350 Intercultural Communication

4 hours

Communication theory and research are used to examine the processes involved in communicating with those who are not members of one's particular cultural, ethnic, racial, religious, gender, ability, and socioeconomic group. Discussion, group activities, and papers will focus on the issues of awareness and competence in increasing one's communicative effectiveness. Prerequisite: COMS 130 or consent of department head. (HBSSM, Intcl)

COMS 353 Argumentation

4 hours

The course takes a rhetorical perspective on argument. Basic principles of argumentation are explored: problem solving through evidence, reasoning, and persuasion. Analysis and criticism of various types of contemporary speech making based on principles, models, and theories of argumentation. Offered alternate years. Prerequisite: COMS 132. (HE, E, S)

COMS 354 Persuasion Theory

4 hours

The course examines contemporary persuasion theory and its applicability to the media of news, advertising, and political communication. Prerequisites: COMS 130, 132, 133. (HB, S)

COMS 356 Rhetorical Theories

4 hours

This course examines key concepts in the area of rhetorical theory. Grounded in classical and contemporary texts, students explore the function of rhetoric in relation to knowledge, community, governance, identity, power, and resistance. Throughout the course, particular attention is given to the relationship between rhetoric and social transformation. Prerequisites: COMS 130, 132, 133. (HB, Hist)

COMS 357 Research Methods

4 hours

Students are introduced to communication and rhetorical methods including design of experimental, survey, textual, rhetorical, and ethnographic research. Prerequisites: COMS 130, 132, 133. (HBSSM, W, R)

COMS 358 Concepts of Media Production II: The Documentary

4 hours

In this course students build on the skills of analysis, scripting, and production development developed in COMS 258 to research, script, plan, produce, and edit their own documentary programs. Prerequisite: COMS 258 or consent of instructor.

COMS 359 Media and Popular Culture

4 hours

An in-depth exploration of the relationship between mass media and culture with particular emphasis on the relationship between the media of mass communication and particular fundamental institutions, such as family, government, religious institutions, and the commercial sphere. The course will also offer opportunities for student research concerning how media influence language, values, and social norms. Prerequisite: COMS 133. (HB)

COMS 362 Communication Theories

4 hours

This course will examine human communication in interpersonal, small group, and organizational structures at a higher theoretical level. Students will analyze and synthesize various conceptual, descriptive and explanatory theoretical orientations that have been introduced in previous communication courses. Prerequisites: COMS 130, 132, 133. (HB)

COMS 370 The Dark Side of Interpersonal Communication

4 hours

This course will focus on communicative phenomenon and behaviors using the recent scholarly approach known as the "Dark Side." Studies from the dark side perspective focus on aspects of communication that are: (a) dark, dysfunctional, and/or immoral, (b) viewed as dark but may have functional outcomes, and (c) viewed as bright but may have damaging outcomes. For example, why do some relationships include verbal or physical abuse? Is deception regarding a relational transgression acceptable if the goal is to protect the relationship? What happens if there is too much of a good thing, such as overly self-disclosing? During the semester, we will unravel the complexities of the dark side of interpersonal communication. The course will include analysis through readings, discussion, papers, presentations, and projects. Prerequisite: COMS 130 or consent of instructor. (HB)

COMS 375 Directed Readings

1 or 2 hours

COMS 380 Internship

1, 2, or 4 hours

Supervised on-campus or off-campus work experience in some area of public communication. No more than four hours may be counted toward the communication major.

COMS 389 Directed Research

1, 2, or 4 hours

Directed research involves students in research projects conducted under the supervision of departmental faculty. With the approval of the department, students may register for more than one semester (but the cumulative total may not exceed four credit hours). Prerequisite: approval of the department head.

COMS 395 Independent Study

1, 2, or 4 hours

COMS 463 Communication and Public Relations

4 hours

This course examines concepts of public relations in organizational systems with emphasis on communication theory and development of a problem-solving perspective. Students apply theory directly to practical public relations problems. Prerequisite: junior or senior status. (HB)

COMS 464 Advanced Research Methods

4 hours

Students build on research methods learned in COMS 357. Research focus is dependent upon instructor and ranges from rhetorical to qualitative, quantitative and media research. Students will produce a research project suitable for professional presentation. Prerequisites: COMS 130, 132, 133, 357. (HBSSM, R)

COMS 490 Senior Project

2 hours

COMS 493 Senior Honors Project

4 hours

A yearlong independent research project. Applications are completed on the Honors Program form available at the registrar's office, requiring the signatures of a faculty supervisor, the department head, the honors program director, and the registrar. Interdisciplinary projects require the signatures of two faculty supervisors. The project must be completed by the due date for senior projects. The completed project is evaluated by a review committee consisting of the faculty supervisor, another faculty member from the major department, and a faculty member from outside the major department. All projects must be presented publicly. Only projects awarded an "A-" or "A" qualify for "department honors" designation. The honors project fulfills the all-college senior project requirement.