Communication

Students pursuing a degree in communication will acquire a broad and deep understanding of communication theory, the ability to engage in informed criticism and analysis of communication acts and artifacts, develop critical thinking skills, and learn to practice effective communication. Students will study communication in multiple contexts and become effective evaluators of oral, written, and mediated texts.

Major Program. The department offers a 36 hour major designed to prepare students for graduate study in communication or related disciplines, professional programs, and/or careers in communication. The major emphasizes communication theory and criticism. While a few courses do deal with communication skills, for the most part communication is not a skills-based discipline, but a discipline that focuses on the study of how human beings use symbols of various types (language, sounds, images, etc.) to create and share meaning in the process of the social construction of reality. Therefore, the communication program focuses on theoretical, critical, and cultural studies of human symbolic practices in various contexts such as rhetorical studies, media and film studies, intercultural communication, and gender studies. Our approach is to develop analytical, critical, and creative abilities in students within the context of the larger social, historical, and cultural dynamics that shape and influence collective human norms, values, and practices. Communication scholarship seeks to understand the ways human beings use constructions such as texts, technology, relationships, and institutions to create meaning, share knowledge, develop power dynamics, and forge our understandings of reality. The student learning outcomes for the communication major are as follows:
 
I. Each student will demonstrate competency in knowledge of communication.
II. Each student will develop an ability to think critically, analyze logically, and judge independently.
III. Each student will demonstrate competency (both organizationally and analytically) in oral communication.
IV. Each student will demonstrate competency (both organizationally and analytically) in written communication.

 

Integrative Experience: The Integrative Experience is fulfilled as part of COM 402 Senior Seminar in Communication. In this course, students develop a senior integrative project which enables the student to apply her accumulated knowledge of communication and engage in a critical analysis of a communication topic.

Professional Development: Throughout her Wesleyan education each student is given opportunities to explore professional and career choices, and to develop and demonstrate the knowledge and skills essential for professional success. Each student will complete a PDE 400 Professional Development Experience and submit a PDE 401 Professional ePortfolio prior to graduation. The Professional Development requirement for the Communication major is met in COM 452 Field Study. A wide variety of internship opportunities in the field of communication are available to students, including journalism, broadcasting, and public relations.

Major Requirements: Communication
The Communication major consists of 36 hours distributed as follows:
 
Core Requirements - 15 hours
COM 103 Communication Theory 3 hours
COM 202 Public Speaking 3 hours
COM 215 Introduction to Media Studies 3 hours
COM 340 Persuasion 3 hours
COM 402 Senior Seminar in Communication 3 hours
 
Critical and Cultural Contexts - 6 hours
COM 216 Intercultural Communication 3 hours
COM 300 Gender and Communication 3 hours
COM 310 Rhetorical Criticism 3 hours
COM 384 Seminar in Rhetorical Studies 3 hours
 
Media and Film Studies - 6 hours
COM 242 Cinematic Images and Society 3 hours
COM 325 Film Criticism 3 hours
COM 377 Cultural Impact of Media Technology 3 hours
COM 385 Seminar in Media Studies 3 hours
 
Communication Electives - 9 hours (at least 6 hours at the 300-400 level)
COM 199 or COM 452 (not both) can count for a maximum of 3 elective hours.
COM 451 can count for a maximum of 3 elective hours.
COM 499 cannot count as a communication elective.
 

Total Hours in Major 36 hours

Note: COM 384 and COM 385 may be repeated once, when topics vary, for a total of 6 hours credit in the Communication major. The student's transcript will indicate the topic of the seminar so as to distinguish the two classes.

Postgraduate Opportunities. There is no ready-made or single career option for communication students because of the pervasive nature of communication. However, communication students often go on to work in careers such as public relations, personnel, counseling, human services, journalism, broadcasting, lobbying, speech writing, and teaching. Students in communication also go on to graduate school in communication or other disciplines, law school or even medical school.

Minor Program. The department offers an 18 hour minor designed to supplement a variety of major fields of study across the liberal arts.

Minor Requirements: Communication. 18 semester hours of communication courses are required for a minor in communication, six semester hours of which will include:

COM 103 Communication Theory 3 hours
COM 202 Public Speaking 3 hours

Of the remaining twelve hours of required communication study, at least six of those hours must be taken at the 300-level or above (exclusive of COM 199 and COM 452). A student may apply for a maximum of 3 credit hours of Directed Independent Study (COM 451) towards these remaining 12 hours.

Resources for Non-Majors. Most communication courses are open to all students. Communication courses provide an enriching theoretical, practical, and critical background to students with other majors. In our courses, non-majors should expect to develop critical thinking skills, and advance their oral and written communication abilities.

Communication (COM) Gen. Ed. Course Descriptions

103: Communication Theory.
Goal: To provide an overview of the major theories, methodologies, and schools of thought in the discipline of communication.
Content: Study of communication theories and processes in fields such as interpersonal communication, group and organizational communication, rhetorical studies, media and cultural studies, intercultural communication, and gender communication.
Taught: Annually.
Gen. Ed. Category: Exploring; Individuals & Communities; (HUM).
Credit: 3 hours.

202: Public Speaking.
Goal: To provide students with the theory and practice of public address through a wide variety of experiences.
Content: Study of the principles of speaking from classical rhetoric to modern, cultural perspectives. Application of the principles and strategies for informative and persuasive processes and special-occasion events. Critical understandings and practice of evaluative analysis of presentations and ethics in speech situations.
Taught: Fall, Spring.
Gen. Ed. Category: Developing; Speaking Competency; (HUM).
Credit: 3 hours.

216: Intercultural Communication.
Goal: To understand the similarities and differences in cultures' communication understandings, performances, and privileging.
Content: Focus on the social construction of positionality, power dynamics, and expectations of cultural identity: race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, social economic status, sex, gender, sexuality, (dis)ability, age, etc. Explore the transitioning, negotiating, and managing in the process of intercultural communication in relationships, groups, societies, media, and institutions.
Taught: Alternate Years.
Gen. Ed. Category: Expanding; Diverse & Interdependent World; (HUM ).
Credit: 3 hours.

Communication (COM) Other Course Descriptions

215: Introduction to Media Studies.
Goal: To introduce students to the major theoretical, critical, and methodological approaches to media studies.
Content: Readings, discussion, and analysis of media texts and artifacts. Critical methodologies studied will include semiotics, structuralism and poststructuralism, cultural studies, ideological criticism, Marxist analysis, psychoanalytic criticism, sociological analysis, and feminist criticism.
Taught: Annually.
Credit: 3 hours.

242: Cinematic Images and Society.
Goal: To acquaint students with the relationship between film and society by examining the social, artistic, cultural, political, and economic contexts of film.
Content: Screening and discussion of narrative fiction films. Readings and discussion of film history, structure of the film industry, and film movements. Study of film language, narrative, audiences, genres and styles.
Taught: Alternate years.
Credit: 3 hours.

300: Gender and Communication.
Goal: To explore the roles, rules, expectations, and power dynamics in the performance of gender in relational and textual processes.
Content: Reading, discussion, and analysis, primarily through a feminist lens, of situations and artifacts in private and public life: from family, friendship, and romance to education, work/organizations, media, and other social institutions. Work to challenge the assumptions and dictates of societal notions of gender, sex, and sexuality. There will be a primary focus given to works by and about women.
Taught: Alternate Years.
Prerequisite: COM 103 or WST 200 or permission of instructor.
Credit: 3 hours; Cross-listed as WST 300.

310: Rhetorical Criticism.
Goal: To engage with the rhetorical processes of persuasion and contextualization through a practiced, theoretical analysis of texts.
Content: Explore the possible interpretations and multiple meanings open within rhetorical texts such as speeches, film, television, music, websites, sculpture, art, clothing, relational actions, communicative choices, etc. Application of a variety of rhetorical criticism methods culminating in a research project: neo-Aristotelian, cluster, metaphor, generic, fantasy-theme, pentadic, narrative, ideological, and feminist methods.
Taught: Alternate Years.
Prerequisite: COM 103 or permission of instructor.
Credit: 3 hours.
 
325: Film Criticism.
Goal: To understand the formalistic elements of film and familiarize students with the academic study of film criticism.
Content: Screening and discussion of narrative fiction films. Study of film form, structure, mise-en-scene, cinematography, editing, sound, and style.
Taught: Alternate years.
Prerequisite: One COM course or permission of instructor.
Credit: 3 hours.

340: Persuasion.
Goal: To study the processes of persuasion and identification surrounding source, message, and audience through rhetorical and psychological lenses.
Content: Deconstruction of the strategies and choices available in communication situations in relational, societal, and textual contexts to become cognizant and ethical in our own (ab)use of persuasion. Intensive analysis and reconstruction of advertising, political, and social movements campaigns through a persuasive theoretical lens.
Taught: Annually.
Prerequisite: COM 103 or COM 202 or permission of instructor.
Credit: 3 hours.

377: Cultural Impact of Media Technology.
Goal: To provide students with an understanding of the role changes in media technology have had over the course of human history in shaping cultural, social, political, and economic forces.
Content: Readings, discussion and analysis of the impact of orality, literacy, electronic and digital media on human conceptions of knowledge, politics, economics, power, relationships, selfhood, cognition, and identity.
Taught: Alternate years.
Credit: 3 hours.

384: Seminar in Rhetorical Studies.
Goal: To study a topic in rhetorical theory, criticism, or public discourse. Topics will vary. Representative topics might include the history of rhetorical theory, American public discourse, classical Taoist rhetoric, Feminist rhetoricians, or study of a rhetorical scholar.
Content: Readings and discussion of relevant texts. Papers, exams or other assignments relevant to the topic.
Taught: Alternate years.
Prerequisite: One COM course or permission of instructor.
Credit: 3 hours; cross-listed as AST 384 (for Asian content only).

385: Seminar in Media Studies.
Goal: To study a topic in media theory, structure, history, or criticism. Topics will vary. Representative topics might include reality television, female action heroes in film, economics of the media industry, the cultural history of American popular music, or media portrayals of sexuality.
Content: Readings and discussion of relevant texts. Papers, exams or other assignments relevant to the topic.
Taught: Alternate years.
Prerequisite: One COM course or permission of instructor.
Credit: 3 hours.

396: Special Topics in Communication.
Goal: To offer courses on a communication topic not available in the curriculum.
Content: Dependent upon the subject matter.
Taught: Offered occasionally.
Prerequisite: One COM course or permission of instructor.
Credit: 3 hours.

402: Senior Seminar in Communication.
Goal: To provide a capstone course in which students will develop a senior integrative project. To enable communication majors to apply their accumulated knowledge of communication and engage in critical analysis of a communication topic.
Content: Development of a comprehensive paper, portfolio, or project. All students will meet regularly as a group with communication faculty to assess, discuss, and critique their projects. Students will give an oral presentation of their projects at the end of the semester.
Taught: Annually.
Prerequisite: Senior status as declared communication major or permission of instructor.
Credit: 3 hours.

451: Directed Independent Study.
Goal: To enable an intensive exploration of a topic in communication of special interest.
Content: Directed independent work of a on a topic in communication
Taught: Upon request of student, with approval of sponsoring faculty.
Prerequisite: Permission of program director.
Credit: 1-6 hours.

452/199: Field Study.
Goal: To provide the student with intensive work experience in the field of communication.
Content: Observation and participation in the work of communication professionals.
Taught: Offered occasionally.
Prerequisites: Permission of advisor, program director, faculty sponsor, and the Director of Career Development.
Credit: 1-12 hours.

499: Honors Thesis. (Fee required)
Calendar of Events

Calendar of Events

Wesleyan College is privileged to steward many arts and cultural events and share them with the community. Most are free and open to the public. Wesleyan art galleries are open M-F 1:30 – 5:00 PM and on Wesleyan Market Saturdays from 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM.

View More
Visit our Campus

Visit our Campus

Tour our beautiful 200-acre campus featuring Georgian architecture, lush green spaces, recreational facilities, residence halls, and worship center.

Tour Now
NCAA Division III Athletics

NCAA Division III Athletics

Wesleyan College is home to five NCAA Division III sports: soccer, basketball, volleyball, tennis, and softball. In addition, we offer an award-winning Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) Equestrian program.

Learn More

Join our email list