COM 380/580: Communication in Politics

INSTRUCTOR: Greg Pulliam

PHONE: (312) 567-7968/3465

OFFICE: 213 Siegel Hall

MAILBOX in 218 Siegel

OFFICE HOURS: MW 1:00-3:00 p.m.




Course Objectives

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


2] To investigate how those rules and types apply in the current presidential campaign.


3] Some additional, more general goals of this course are that students will:

-demonstrate the ability to read and interpret texts in the humanities.

-demonstrate the ability to produce written and oral discourse appropriate to the humanities.

-participate effectively in critical discussions of cultural and social issues.

-make concise presentations of complex issues pertaining to the humanities.

-demonstrate knowledge of how linguistic practices interrelate to other human practices.

-demonstrate knowledge of the issues and methods entailed in providing and evaluating evidence or intellectual justifications.

-demonstrate knowledge of the ethical issues that arise in the practice of the professions.

-work cooperatively in groups.

-become familiar with methods of peer evaluation.

-examine the effects of scientific and technological developments on individuals and social groups.



1] Hollihan, Thomas A. Uncivil Wars: Political Campaigns in a Media Age, 2nd Edition (Uncivil). ISBN-13: 978-0-312-47883-4; ISBN-10: 0-312-47883-6.

2] Bowers, Ochs, Jensen & Schulz. The Rhetoric of Agitation and Control, 3rd Edition (Rhetoric). ISBN-13: 978-1-57766-614-1; ISBN-10: 1-57766-614-3.

3] A daily newspaper, news web site or political blog of your choice, subject to my approval (NWB).


Syllabus for Summer 2012


T 5 Syllabus and course introduction; Uncivil Chapter 1 (in class).

R 7 Uncivil Chapter 2; Rhetoric Chapter 1; Tell me your choice of newspaper, news web site or blog.


T 12 Uncivil Chapter 3; Rhetoric Chapter 2.

R 14 Uncivil Chapter 4. NWB report #1.


T 19 Uncivil Chapter 5; Rhetoric Chapter 3.

R 21 Uncivil Chapter 6; Rhetoric Chapter 4.


T 26 Uncivil Chapter 7; Rhetoric Chapter 5; Unit One exam posted.

R 28 Rhetoric Chapter 6; NWB report #2.



T 3 No class meeting: unit one exam is due at 12:00 midnight.

R 5 No class: July 4th break.


T 10 Uncivil Chapter 8; Rhetoric Chapter 7.

R 12 Uncivil Chapter 9; NWB report #3.


T 17 Uncivil Chapter 10; Rhetoric Chapter 8.

R 19 Uncivil Chapter 11; Paper drafts are due.


T 24 Uncivil Chapter 12; Rhetoric Chapter 9; Unit Two exam posted.

R 26 NWB Analysis Paper Presentations.


Tuesday, July 31, Noon: Unit Two exam due.


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.


2] All students must write a paper analyzing the political coverage of the newspaper, web site or blog you followed: 5-6 pages for undergraduates and 12-14 pages for graduate students, computer printed, double-spaced, and in Standard Written English.


3] There will be a midterm (Unit One) and a (non-comprehensive) final (Unit Two) exam. These will be open-book, essay exams and will be administered and submitted online.


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 oral speech, or on journals or exams, although consistent failure to make your meaning clear could count against you.


5] Graduate students will have some additional readings and informal presentations on them.



Journals/NWB reports--24 entries @8.33/each for a total of 200 points

Exams--Units One and Two @ 200 pts each 400 points

Project--Paper/Presentation @150/50 pts 200 points

Participation--Attendance & Discussion 200 points

TOTAL--1000 points


Addtional Graduate Student Work 200 points

Grad TOTAL: 1200 points