COM 201—COMMUNICATION & SOCIAL ISSUES
MWF, 1pm, Fell Hall 180
Professor: Dr. Joseph Zompetti Office Hours: T, 2-3; W 2-4
Office: Fell 459 Office phone: 438-3277
This course examines social issues from a rhetorical perspective of social movements. We will investigate different social movements and a wide range of issues relating to movements: their history, context, leaders, strategies, resistance, and – most importantly – their rhetorical elements. We will analyze all of these different variables to understand more fully the rhetorical messages relating to particular movements. Because the persuasive (i.e., rhetorical) nature of movements will be at the heart of our studies, we will also discuss basic rhetorical theory. We will use lectures, simulations, presentations, readings and exams to help us in our journey.
EXPECTED LEARNING OBJECTIVES:
At the end of the course, students should be able to:
1. recognize and describe the complex relationships that exist between rhetoric and social movements
2. in either oral or written capacities, express critical arguments about the relationships between rhetoric and social movements
3. have a working vocabulary of different rhetorical theories that are necessary for interrogating movements
4. apply critical concepts to relevant situations that demonstrate the intersections between rhetoric and social movements.
1. Morris, C. E., III, & Browne, S. H. (2001). Readings on the rhetoric of social protest. State College, PA: Strata.
2. Stewart, C. J., Smith, C. A., & Denton, R. E. (2001). Persuasion and social movements (4th ed.). Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland.
Primary speech texts of various social movements are assigned for mandatory reading for the MONDAY that we begin a new unit of movements. The web links for each speech are provided on the tentative schedule.
Every class period is critical if you are to obtain the most of your education. Furthermore, issues that we discuss in class (which will frequently stray from the texts) will be necessary for your on-going assignments and the exam. Your participation grade also will undoubtedly be reflected in your attendance. Additionally, there are 5 points assigned to your attendance. For each class period you miss that is not officially excused, you will lose 1 point. After the third absence, not only will you forfeit all 5 points, but your overall grade will also be reduced by one full letter grade for each day you miss. Habitual tardiness will also be reflected in your attendance and participation grades (3 tardies = 1 absence).
LATE WORK AND EXAMS:
Assignments not turned in on-time will be penalized one full-letter grade for each day they are late. Make-up exams will only be given in the event of a serious illness (documented by a physician’s office) or a death of an immediate family member (documented by the Office of Student Life). Accepting any late work is strictly at the instructor’s discretion.
For the exams, you should expect short answer questions, essay-length questions, and other types of questions that probe higher levels of analytical and critical thinking.
All papers and written assignments must be typed and double-spaced. The quality of your written work (grammar, punctuation, format, spelling, etc.) will be included in grading evaluations. Make sure you proofread all of your work and that they are photocopied or saved on disk. If you forget to proofread or if you misplace your work, do not expect me to be sympathetic. I will not accept e-mailed copies of your written work. Any late work will be automatically reduced one-letter grade for every class period that it is late. If you foresee problems, make sure you discuss them with me BEFORE the assignment is due. Accepting any late work is strictly at the instructor’s discretion. In addition, make an argument!!!! Don’t simply provide opinion. Support your reasons with sufficient evidence (including quotes, references, examples, etc.) that demonstrate, justify or prove your over-arching argument. All the written work asks you to analyze the rhetorical implications of something. When I say “analyzed rhetorically,” that means that the paper must utilize some form of critical, rhetorical perspective to analyze the symbolic, albeit discursive, implications of the social movement. The paper should also demonstrate your working vocabulary of the ideas expressed in the literature indicative of rhetoric and social movements. You should research your area thoroughly. ANY AND ALL ARGUMENTS, IDEAS, WORDS, CONCEPTS, MATERIAL THAT IS NOT YOUR OWN MUST BE APPROPRIATELY FOOTNOTED AND CITED IN A BIBLIOGRAPHY PAGE. Your research should avoid being conducted from the internet, unless in special circumstances, where you need to obtain instructor approval.
This course is designed to improve your ability to communicate and interact with different concepts. Given the inherent communicative nature of symbols and rhetorical forces and their influence on our lives, your participation in class discussions is critical in practicing, developing, and understanding communication skills and messages. Additionally, we all learn more if everyone contributes. I expect all of you, as you should expect from yourselves, to contribute to our educational experience. It is expected that each of the reading assignments will be completed by the time you come to class the day the assignment is due. DO NOT think that your “attendance” is your participation grade. To participate means you add to the overall learning environment with your ideas and critical, albeit respectful, comments. It is up to you to come to class prepared to participate as a citizen — to listen attentively to others, to engage critically and creatively the perspectives of others, and to contribute meaningfully to discussions of the class topics. In short, come to class having read the material with questions and comments ready for discussion. Students who interrupt discussions by frequently arriving to class late, who constantly interrupt others without meaningfully listening to their comments, or who constantly bring up questions that would more appropriately be answered by a glance at the syllabus or during office hours (e.g., “when is this due?” or “what do we have to read for the next class?”) not only reflect poorly on their own class citizenship; they also actively cheapen the educational experience of everyone else. Procedural questions about what is expected of you in the class should be saved for office hours if they are not answered after a re-reading of the syllabus, or can be asked via email.
Out of courtesy for all those participating in the learning experience, all cell phones and pagers must be turned off before entering any classroom, lab, or formal academic or performance event.
“Any student needing to arrange a reasonable accommodation for a documented disability should contact Disability Concerns, FELL 350, 438-5853 (voice), 438-8620 (TDD).”
Cheating and plagiarism will not be tolerated. This includes cutting and pasting from the internet (even if such cutting/pasting have a reference), and generally any material that is not your own unless broken off with quotation marks and cited to the proper author. Specifically for this class, intentional borrowing material from others without proper citation or falsification/fabrication of supporting material, will automatically result in an “F” for that assignment and may result in additional action taken by the appropriate university officials.
The nature of this course requires reading and examining controversial issues. By their nature, controversial issues foster disagreement. Our efforts in this course are to analyze these issues, discuss them, and criticize the strengths and weaknesses of the rhetorical messages and strategies employed in social movements. As such, respect and tolerance for the interrogation of movements in this course is imperative. At the same time, we should also be mindful of the sensitivities of others.
Note: Failure to turn in any of the course requirements may result in failure of the overall course. The Grading Scale is an A (4) = 90-100, B (3) = 80-89, C (2) = 70-79, D (1) = 60-69, F (0) = 0-59.
Participation 5 pts.
Attendance 5 pts.
Critique of SM Theory 20 pts.
Presentation 20 pts.
Simulation 20 pts.
Exams 30 pts.
Total 100 pts
1. Critique of Social Movement Theory: This will be a paper (due date is listed under the tentative schedule) which requires you to engage in a criticism of the THEORY of social movements. Here, you will be able to analyze the theory of your choice (based upon class readings and discussion), and describe the relative strengths and/or weaknesses of the theory. This paper should be between 5 and 10 pages, double-spaced, and should reflect what is under “written assignments” earlier in this syllabus.
2. Presentations: Each student will be paired with another student for a class presentation. The pair is responsible for
researching a class topic area from outside sources. In other words, the team will present the chapter theme associated with
the chapter listed on that date on the syllabus, but the pair will use material other than course readings for their presentation.
Each presentation should be approximately 10 to 15 minutes in length. Each pair should also be knowledgeable in the
subject material to answer questions from the class. The team should present a handout to the class, including a bibliography
of their research that should be conducted from non-internet sources. There should be at least five (5) sources listed in the
bibliography that supports the presentation. Your presentation will be evaluated on:
i. Quality of analysis:
*does the presentation identify existing strengths and weaknesses of the social movement?
*does the presentation fit the challenges and strengths you have identified with your movement?
*does the presentation synthesize and reflect upon course themes?
*does the presentation demonstrate your knowledge of social movement theory and practice?
ii. Use of evidence:
*does the presentation rely on current scholarly evidence to support major claims?
*does the presentation rely on outside, non-internet sources?
*does the presentation demonstrate a thoughtful and well-organized approach to the material?
*does the presentation include a strong introduction with a purpose statement and review of main points?
*does the presentation develop and support each claim?
*does the conclusion offer a review of main points and a final thought?
iv. Audience Adaptation:
*does the group make arguments appropriate to an audience of “local residents”?
*are group members able to respond intelligently to questions from “local residents” in the class?
v. Appropriate Use of Time:
*do group members use the entire class time wisely and efficiently, allowing appropriate time for questions and answers?
*do all group members play a vital role in presenting the material?
3. Simulation: Each student should pick a controversial social issue of their choice (that must meet instructor approval by September 22). They then should develop a plan of creating, organizing and sustaining a social movement surrounding their issue of choice. In a written paper, the student will describe the historical and cultural context of their social issue, then describe how their movement will relate to the issue, with particular emphasis on the rhetorical strategies for persuading specific segments of the population, including any audiences who are expected to resist the social movement. The paper should be roughly 10 pages in length and meet all of the requirements listed elsewhere in the syllabus under the heading “written assignments.”
**Note: All assignments will be given a more detailed and thorough explanation later in the semester.
***NOTE: The Morris & Browne text entitled Readings on the Rhetoric of Social Protest is indicated by RRSP on this schedule. And, the Stewart, Smith & Denton text entitled Persuasion and Social Movements is indicated by PSM on this schedule.
M, 18 Introductions, the Syllabus, and an introduction to basic rhetorical theory
W, 20 Basic SM Theory, part I (PSM, chapters 1-2; Lucas, "Coming to Terms with Movement Studies" in RRSP)
F, 22 Basic SM Theory, part II (PSM, chapters 6 & 14; Stewart, "A Functional Approach to the Rhetoric of Social Movements" in RRSP)
M, 25 Rhetoric & SM Theory, part I (PSM, chapters 3-4, 7-9).
W, 27 Rhetoric & SM Theory, part II (PSM, chapters 10, 11, 13)
F, 29 Rhetoric & SM Theory, part III (RRSP, chapter 1 – Griffin to Simons)
M, 1 Labor Day – No Class
W, 3 Rhetoric & SM theory, part IV (RRSP, chapter 1 – Gregg to Cathcart)
F, 5 Rhetoric & SM theory, part V (RRSP, chapter 2 – Sillars, McGee, Zarefsky, & Andrews)
M, 8 Presentation #1 – Rhetoric of the Feminist Movement –
RRSP, Campbell, "The Rhetoric of Women's Liberation"
RRSP, Conrad, "The Transformation of the 'Old Feminist' Movement"
RRSP, Tonn, "Militant Motherhood"
Faludi, S. (1999, October 14). "Scenes from the Betrayal of the American Man." Available online:
Fiedan, B. (1970). "Judge Carswell and the 'Sex Plus' Doctrine." Available online: http://gos.sbc.edu/f/friedan.html
Stanton, E. C. (1868). "The Destructive Male." Available online: http://www.historyplace.com/speeches/stanton.htm
Truth, Sojourner. (1851). "Ain't I a Woman?" Available online: http://www.feminist.com/resources/artspeech/genwom/sojour.htm
Whitman, C. T. (1998, October 29). "Remarks at the Institute of Politics, John F. Kennedy School of Government." Available online: http://gos.sbc.edu/w/whitman3.html
Wolf, N. (1997, July). "Statement on Dying to be Thin." Available online: http://gos.sbc.edu/w/wolf2.html
W, 10 Discussion con't & possible video
F, 12 Discussion con't & exam
M, 22 Presentation #2 – Rhetoric of the Abortion Movements; topic for simulation due
PSM, chapter 12
RRSP, Railsback, "The Contemporary American Abortion Controversy"
Coy, A. (2001, January 22). "We Change Hearts: Before We Change Laws!" Available online:
Michelman, K. (2002, January 22). "Roe v. Wade Anniversary Speech." Available online:
W, 24 Discussion con't
F, 26 Discussion con't & exam
M, 29 Presentation #3 – Rhetoric of the Gay, Lesbian and AIDS Movements
RRSP, Dorsey, "From Gay is Good to the Scourge of AIDS"
Bohnett, D. (2000, June 18). "Acceptance Speech for the Sheldon Anderson Award." Available online:
Fox, S. (1999, October11). "National Coming Out Day." Available online:
Lewis, S. (2003, January 8). "The Lack of Funding for HIV/AIDS is Mass Murder by Complacency." Available online:
W, 1 Discussion con't
F, 3 Discussion con't & exam
M, 6 Presentation #4 – Rhetoric and the Civil Rights Movements
Charmichael, S. (1966, September 22). "Power and Racism." Available online:
King, Martin L. (1968, April 3). “I've Been to the Mountain Top.” Available online:
King, Martin L. (1963, August 28). “I Have a Dream.” Available online: http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/Ihaveadream.htm
Malcolm X. (1964, April 3). “Ballot or the Bullet.” Available online: http://www.indiana.edu/~rterrill/Text-BorB.html
W, 8 Discussion con't & possible video(s)
F, 10 Discussion con't & exam
M, 13 Presentation #5 – Rhetoric and the Black Power Movement
RRSP, Burgess, "The Rhetoric of Black Power"
RRSP, Stewart, "The Evolution of a Revolution"
Charmichael, S. (1966, October). "Black Power." Available online: http://www.svdltd.com/sells/cpa/speeches/carmichaeltxt.htm
Farrakhan, L. (1996, June 9). "The Divine Destruction of America: Can She Avert It?" Available online:
W, 15 Discussion con't & possible video
F, 17 Discussion con't & exam
M, 20 Presentation #6 – Rhetoric and the American Indian Movement
RRSP, Lake, "Enacting Red Power"
Churchill, W. (2001, February 12). "International Convention on Genocide" (parts 1 & 2). Available in Real Audio online:
Means, R. (1980, July). "For America to Live, Europe Must Die." Available online: http://www.dickshovel.com/Banks.html
Means, R. (1995, Fall). "Free to be Responsible." Available online: http://www.russellmeans.com/responsible.html
W, 22 Discussion con't & Video on Sitting Bull Discussion
F, 24 Discussion con't & exam
M, 27 Presentation #7 – Rhetoric and the Anti-Globalization Movement
Mander, Jerry. (2003, April 2). "Economic Globalization, the War With Iraq and the Real Alternatives." Available online:
Horton, M. (2002, August). "New Century, Old Battles." Available online: http://www.converge.org.nz/watchdog/00/03.htm
W, 29 Discussion con't
F, 31 Discussion con't & exam
M, 3 Presentation #8 – Rhetoric and the Environment & Property Rights Movements
RRSP, Killingsworth & Palmer, "The Discourse of 'Environmentalist Hysteria'"
Dean, H. (2003, July 31). "The Next Hundred Years: Forging a Strong Environmental Policy to Take Our Natural Resources Back." Available online: http://www.deanforamerica.com/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=7383
Pope, C. (1995, June 31). "The New Politics: Speech on Property Rights." Available online:
W, 5 Discussion con't
F, 7 Discussion con't & exam
M, 10 Presentation #9 – Rhetoric and the Migrant & Farm Workers Movement/Labor Movements
RRSP, Burgchardt, "Two Faces of American Communism"
Chavez, C. (1968, March 8-10). "The Mexican-American and the Church." Available online:
Chavez, C. (1989, March). "Pacific Lutheran University Address." Available online: http://www.ufw.org/fast.htm
Debs, E. V. (1905, June 29). "Speech at the Founding Convention of the Industrial Workers of the World." Available online: http://www.marxists.org/archive/debs/works/1905/iwwfound.htm
Hoffa, J. (2001, June 25). "Keynote Address." Available online: http://www.teamster.org/01convention/hoffaspeech.htm
W, 12 Discussion con't & possible audio presentation
F, 14 Discussion con't & possible video
M, 17 Discussion con't & exam
W, 19 NCA – No Class
F, 21 NCA – No Class
M, 24 Thanksgiving Break – No Class
W, 26 Thanksgiving Break – No Class
F, 28 Thanksgiving Break – No Class
M, 1 Presentation #10 – Rhetoric and the Anti-War/Peace Movements
Bush, G. W. (2003, March 17). "President's Address to the Nation: Ultimatum to Sadaam Hussein." Available online:
Messineo, C. (2003, April 1). "War and Occupation, Iraq and Palestine." Available online:
Zinn, H. (2002, October 10). "The Toll of War." Available online: http://www.progressive.org/webex/wxzinntxt02.html
W, 3 Discussion con't; Critique of Social Movement Theory Paper Due
F, 5 Discussion con't & exam
W, 10 Final exam at 1 pm; Simulation Due