COM 374/574: Communication in Politics

INSTRUCTOR: Greg Pulliam

PHONE: (312) 567-7968/3465

OFFICE: 213 Siegel Hall

MAILBOX in 218 Siegel

OFFICE HOURS: MW 1:00-2:45 p.m.






Course Objectives

1] To introduce students to the general theories and practices of political campaign communication today.


2] To investigate how those theories and practices applied in the past, especially the 2012 presidential race, and how they are applying in the 2016 presidential campaign.


3] This course may be applied to students’ core curriculum requirement of at least two upper-level humanities courses. The IIT Core Curriculum contributes significantly to IIT's overall goal that its graduates

Be committed to positive change in their communities, nations and the world, able to:

Š      Identify and analyze contemporary issues and problems.

Š      Compare and contrast different points of view, both within and across cultures.

Think critically, viewing problems as opportunities for innovation, able to:

Š      Appropriately employ multiple quantitative and qualitative methods of analysis and evaluation.

Š      Employ the best available technology to achieve solutions.

Collaborate professionally and ethically, able to:

Š      Work successfully with others within and across disciplines and cultures.

Š      Identify and discuss ethical issues.

Communicate effectively, able to:

Š      Establish an objective, and clearly and cohesively support it.

Š      Speak and write in a manner that does not require significant work by the audience to fill in needed information or to ignore linguistic distractions. 

Š      Speak and write appropriately within and across disciplines and cultures.




1] The Dynamics of Political Communication: Media and Politics in a Digital Age, by Richard M. Perloff (2014). ISBN 978-0-415-53184-9 (Perloff).

2] Rich Media, Poor Democracy: Communication Politics in Dubious Times, by Robert W. McChesney (1999).  ISBN 978-1-56584-975-4 (McChesney).

3] The 2012 Presidential Campaign: A Communication Perspective, Robert E. Denton, Editor (2014). ISBN 978-1-4422-1674-7 (2012).



Syllabus for Summer 2016


M 6 Syllabus and course introduction; McChesney Introduction “The Media/Democracy Paradox” (in-class); group meeting: choose articles and divide work.

W 8 Perloff Chapter 1 “The Panoply of Political Communication”; McChesney Chapter 1 “U.S. Media at the Dawn of the Twenty-First Century.”


M 13 Perloff Chapter 2 “What is Political Communication?” and 2012 Chapter 1 “The 2012 Presidential Nominating Conventions and the American Dream”; group meeting: progress report.

W 15 Perloff Chapter 3 “The Study of Political Communication” and Perloff Chapter 4 “Media and Political Knowledge.”


M 20 McChesney Chapter 2 “The Media System Goes Global”; 2012 Chapter 6 “Death by Taxes.”

W 22 Perloff Chapter 5 “Contemporary Political Socialization” and Perloff Chapter 6 “Agenda-Setting”; group meeting: progress report.


M 27 McChesney Chapter 3 “Will the Internet Set Us Free?” and 2012 Chapter 9 Explaining the Vote in the Election of 2012”; midterm essay assigned.

W 29 Midterm essay due.



M 4 No class: July 4th break.

W 6 Perloff Chapter 7 “Agenda-Building” and Perloff Chapter 8 “Framing”; group meeting:final preparations.


M 11 Perloff Chapter 9 “Behind Political News: Myths and Realities”; McChesney Chapter 4 “Educators and the Battle for Control of U.S. Broadcasting, 1928-35”; group presentation: Alexander, Richard Hill and Jason on 2012 Chapter 5 “The New Media Campaign of 2012.”

W 13 Perloff Chapter 10 “Unpacking Political News”and Perloff Chapter 11 “Political Campaigns Past and Present”; group presentation: Adeena, Dulce and Camilla on 2012 Chapter 2 “Change in the Communication Demands of Spouses in the 2012 Nominating Convention.”

M 18 Perloff Chapter 12 “The Main Players in Political Campaigns”; McChesney Chapter 5 “Public Broadcasting: Past, Present, … and Future?” Group presentation: Richard Courtney, Allan and Haley on 2012 Chapter 7 “Presidential Campaigns as Cultural Events.”

W 20 Perloff Chapter 13 “Nominations and the News” and Perloff Chapter 14 “Persuasion and Political Campaigns”; group presentation: Kislay, Minghe and Caitlin on 2012 Chapter 8 “The New-Media Campaign of 2012.”


M 25 Perloff Chapter 15 “Political Advertising”; McChesney Chapter 6 “The New Theology of the First Amendment: Class Privilege over Democracy”; group presentation: Sarah, Yoftahel and Chunhao on 2012 “Presidential Debates of 2012.”

W 27 Perloff Chapter 16 “Presidential Debates”; McChesney Conclusion “The U.S. Left and Media Politics”; group presentation: Ali, Luke and John on 2012 Chapter 4 “’His to Lose.’” Final essay assigned.


Friday, July 29, by midnight: Final essay is due.




Journals—27 entries @ 7.4/each for a total of 200 points

Essays—midterm and final @ 200 pts each for 400 points

Group Presentation @ 200 points

Participation—Attendance & Discussion @ 200 points

TOTAL--1000 points


Addtional Graduate Student Work 200 points

Grad TOTAL: 1200 points



Course Requirements (The fine print)

1] You must keep a responsive journal to each day's reading assignment/s. This journal should be prepared prior to class on the date that the reading is listed on the syllabus. Each entry should refer to at least 7 passages in the text. You might


(a) list the most interesting/important/controversial things in the reading, and/or

(b) write out questions you have about the reading, or things you would like to have more explanation for, and/or

(c) take positions on things discussed in the reading, quoting specific passages and giving support for your position.


You must do this for each reading assignment. These journals will be the focus of class discussions, and therefore must be written prior to class and submitted at the end of class on the due date. Please include the page numbers of the material you discuss so that we can easily find the passage in class. Handwritten journal entries are acceptable. Turning in the journal entries on time but not attending class will get you only 1/2 credit for the journals, as will late or early submission of entries, or any other submission that does not involve you being in class for the duration of the period and submitting them then. (200 points total)


2] All students must prepare and participate in a group presentation on one of the articles from 2012. Slideshows and handouts should be included. (200 points total)


3] There will be a midterm essay and a final essay. These will be administered and submitted online, and following the rules for the essays is required. (200 points per essay)


4] Attendance and participation in discussions are mandatory. Habitual late arrival will cost you participation points. Use of standard English will NOT be factors in speech, or on journals or exams, although consistent failure to make your meaning clear could count against you. (200points)


5] Academic Honesty will be presumed. Except when collaborative work is specifically called for, work on assignments is expected to be your own. Please refer to the Code of Academic Honesty in the Student Handbook for details concerning sanctions. I will be glad to answer questions you may have about how to document sources properly. DO NOT COPY AND PASTE STUFF INTO YOUR ESSAYS AND TRY TO PASS IT OFF AS YOUR OWN WORK. I also have internet access and I am quite capable of searching for and finding specific strings of words.


6] Special Needs Students will be accommodated. Adaptation of methods and materials for students with documented disabilities will be made in consultation with the Center for Disability Resources. Students must consult with me and the CDR at the beginning of the term.


7] Graduate students, if there are any, will have some additional readings and informal presentations on them. (200 points)