COURSE OBJECTIVES: The general objective of this course is to introduce you to basic concepts of communication criticism by asking you to analyze and evaluate the oral and written communication that goes on around you.  Throughout the semester we will look at a broad range of persuasive messages: Over the next 27 Class periods we will analyze messages that appear in speeches, written works, film, television, cartoons, art and music. Always our attempt will be to understand how the context and the symbols that make up the messages are inviting us to understand and possibly to act in the world.  Hence our perspective is not only critical but rhetorical as well. Hopefully you will gain insight and practical skills, which will help you, appreciate and understand more fully the richness and complexity of the communication process that creates your world.


The term "criticism" as it will be used in this class has a technical meaning quite different from its more common usage.  We are not simply finding faults or condemning the messages or the messengers. Instead, we are interested in explaining how a message works and how to evaluate its impact.  Our goal then is to enlarge our understanding of how people communicate.  As one critic explained, "Criticism is properly the rod of divination: a hazel switch for the discovery of buried treasure, not a birch twig for the castigation of offenders."


LEARNING OUTCOMES:  Digital storytelling facilitates the convergence of four student centered learning strategies: student engagement, reflection for deep learning, project based learning and the effective integration of technology as a tool for learning. One outcome is to develop skills that are applicable to a wide range of occupations where making digital messages are critical. Some key skills are: deep learning of narrative creation and development; image analysis and visual observation; evaluating argument and evidence in visual narrative, organizing work, communicating effectively and exercising judgment and initiative.

This course offers students an introduction to the theories and dimensions of human communication as relevant to interpersonal, group, cutlural and organizational relationships. The course focuses on basic theories and contexts and provides a grounding in the social science orientation of the field of communication.