Summer 2017


CMS and NON CMS Majors


This course is being taught in the summer to utilize students’ opportunities to get work experience in a variety of settings in and out of Austin, Texas. As a result, communication between the professor and the students, as well as the writing assignments for the course, will be handled entirely online. This course places students in communication positions with public and private organizations.This course is open to students from UT Austin, regardless of major, for students interested in interning at a site that requires credit.


This course carries the Ethics and Leadership and the Writing Flags.


Welcome to CMS 342K, a course that examines the theory and practice of political communication in the United States. A democracy has always depended on open and direct communication between its citizens and those who govern them. Today, the White House has its own press office, World Wide Web site, email address, and Twitter account. Entire new specializations have developed in the world of politics—the spin experts, the investigative reporters, the media handlers, advertising’s time-buyers—all of these persons now crowd on top of one another in Washington D.C. and in Austin, Texas. In this class, we will study these phenomena, these people. This is a “citizen’s course” that will challenge you to rethink your views of politics. Whether you are Republican, Democrat, or non-partisan; liberal, conservative, or apathetic is your business rather than ours. There is no partisan or ideological line to follow in this course, and no student will ever be penalized for respectfully disagreeing with the readings or class discussion. Our primary goal in this class is to ask whether or not democracy is made better or worse, helped or hurt, by contemporary communication practices and technologies. This course is one of several in the CMS “Political Communication” track (and there are no prerequisites required to take it). This course may be counted toward the writing flag and ethics and leadership flag requirements.


This course carries the Independent Inquiry Flag.

This is a course about how to analyze the rhetoric of popular culture. We will be learning ways to understand how movies, television, popular music, sports, games, and so forth influence the ways we act and think. We move toward your own original research project and paper, based on independent research. The course assumes some familiarity through previous study with issues of culture, media, rhetoric, and persuasion. The course is web based, which means we do not meet in person but instead conduct all our business through Canvas. This course allows and encourages a lot of independent student work, guided by readings, discussions on Canvas, and instructor explanations. This course may be counted toward the independent inquiry flag requirement.


CMS majors ONLY


This web-based upper-division internship course is ideal for you if you’re ready to apply what you’ve learned in CMS courses to a hands-on work experience.  As the instructor, I’m here to be a resource; I’ve taught this course almost 10 years and I spent a decade in industry prior to my academic experience.  Students in this class are at vastly different places in their career development, and my objective is to allow you to customize your learning experience to achieve your goals.  You will choose one of the College-to-Career Activities that will help you the best: 1) optimizing your resume, 2) perfecting your LinkedIn profile, or 3) conducting informational interviews for potential careers or graduate school options.  You’ll also write two brief reflection papers to both update me on your internship and reflect on your experiences.  Finally, your supervisor will evaluate your performance and I’ll teach you how to be actively engaged in that process starting with negotiating your contract.  Along the way, I’ll provide many optional resources to help you turn this class into a life-long learning experience. 



Have you ever felt manipulated by a smooth-talking politician, a slick TV commercial, or a sweet little Girl Scout selling cookies? This course is a survey of prominent perspectives on persuasion and social influence that inform our understanding of compliance-gaining episodes such as these. We will focus on the source, receiver, and message features that affect the nature of persuasive attempts and outcomes, and we will devote attention to what makes persuasive communication behaviors successful and unsuccessful in both interpersonal and mass communication contexts.



This course uses communication and interdisciplinary perspectives to explore interactions involving technology. May include the study of impression formation, identity, surveillance, privacy, distributed teams, trust and deception, online gaming, social support, and uses and impacts of new information and communication technology.


This course carries the Ethics and Leadership, Writing, and Independent Inquiry flags.


This class will be conducted entirely online. It will cover such questions as: How do you handle fights with your significant other? When you avoid fighting, does it make the relationship stronger or weaker? Do you make the relationship better or kill it off? How do you handle disagreements with your family? Do you find yourself handling things well on one day and making a mess on the next? What makes the difference? Do you have people in your life who make no sense to you? Do you find yourself in conflict with them? How does it go? What happened the last time you had a conflict with a store? Were you satisfied with the outcome? How about problems with a teacher or classmates? Were you satisfied with the outcome in those conflicts? Were you proud of yourself? What makes you proud of the way you handle yourself? (What makes you embarrassed?) When you look at movies and TV shows, do you think what you see is realistic? Do you get ideas about how to handle your own conflicts from there? Do these ideas work? When you look at the President and Congress or North Korea and the US, do you see any similarities between your life and how nations handle conflict? Do things like gender, role, ethnicity, nationality, and even family background make a difference in your conflicts? Do other things matter more or less?

Activities for learning in this class include reading about conflict and communication, analyzing conflicts (including, possibly, your own), and experiencing and evaluating communication behaviors that are said to be effective in conflict talk. Because we will be online, we will also look at some of the electronic contexts for conflict and new designs for dialogue. Materials include assigned reading, teacher lectures (delivered live and posted to Canvas, as well as other video and web materials. You’ll write two taut papers, one on a relationship conflict and one on a less personal, more of a policy conflict. There will be two quizzes to cover the reading and lectures. You will also try your advising and analyzing skills on real life conflicts by applying what you are learning for an additional set of grades.


This course carries a Cultural Diversity flag.


This is a course in film theory and history, which is taught from a rhetorical perspective and organized around three themes: 1) the mode of production, or industry; 2) the apparatus, or the technology of cinematic experience; and 3) the "text," or the network of filmic elements (narrative, image, and sound). While exploring each theme we will also work through and examine a set of concepts that have become established as the basic interpretive tools available to those studying and analyzing film as a rhetorical artifact: modes of production, the star, the spectator, narration, enunciation, the gaze, sexual and racial difference within the visual field, the soundtrack, and the disembodied voice. Our emphasis in the course is not on the appreciation of film art, but rather, in theory about film and film criticism. In other words, we are concerned principally with what is at stake in a critical or rhetorical reading. The course is open to a limited number of graduate students with extra assignments under independent study. This course may be counted towards the cultural diversity flag requirement.