COMM 10: Introduction to Communication (Spring 2014)

Lecture: MWF 2-2:50 119 Center Hall

Course website:


Marisa Brandt (Professor)

Office Hours: Wed 3:15-4:15 in Comm Main Office: First floor of MCC

Cristina Visperas (TA)

Office Hours: Fri 12:30-1:30pm in LGBT Resource Center

Sections: Mon & Wed 11-11:50am WLH 2110

Monika Sengul-Jones (TA)

Office Hours: Wed 4:30-5pm in SEQ 204

Section: Fri 3-3:50 HSS 2152

Yelena Gluzman (TA)

Office Hours: Wed 3-4pm in SEQ 201

Sections: Wed & Fri 8-8:50am WLH 2110

Course Description

This course seeks to answer five key questions: What is communication? Where does it occur? How does it occur? Why does it matter? How do we study it? In answering these questions the course provides an introduction to major issues in the field of communication, and also to the main areas of focus in this department.


Textbook: Boateng, Boatema, Zeinabu Davis, & Brian Goldfarb eds. An Introduction to Communication, (Revised First Edition) San Diego, CA: Cognella, 2013

All readings will be available either in the course textbook or on the TED course site. The location of these texts are noted on the weekly reading schedule.

Course Details and Policies

1.     Respectfulness: The course will involve classroom participation in which we discuss politically and ideological fraught topics. Be open-minded and engaged. Respect the opinions and personal predilections of others. The position taken in this class is that are no stupid opinions, only uninformed ones. Therefore in disagreeing with others’ opinions, it is necessary to provide them with information that might persuade them to think differently instead of simply dismissing their views out of hand. All participants in the class—including the professor and TAs—are also required to observe the UCSD Principles of Community which can be found at:

2.     Participation: This a class about ideas and critical thinking. The best way to develop your skills in these areas and get the most out of your education is to actively engage in course discussions. Hearing your own voice weighing on Big Ideas and having a professor or TA respond to your ideas is a unique educational opportunity—take advantage of it!  If you find yourself being a silent spectator, make a goal to speak once a week. If you find yourself speaking multiple times a lecture, sit back and open the floor to others.

3.     Instruction Team: In managing this class the professor and teaching assistants will function as a team and will consult regularly with each other on all matters concerning the class. In particular, they will use identical criteria in grading student assignments and will make every effort to ensure that grades assigned are scrupulously fair and reflect the quality of the work concerned. Due to this process of consultation and the use of uniform grading criteria, teaching assistants have complete authority in all actions that they undertake regarding the course, and the professor is unlikely to rescind any of their decisions.

4.     Attendance: Attendance at all lectures, sections, and screenings is required. Attendance will be taken in the form of pop quizzes (see below) during lectures. An excused absence is one where you inform the professor or TA beforehand that you will not be able to make it to a class, section, or screening for a valid and documented medical or legal reason. If you have an unforeseen emergency that prevents you from attending class, inform the professor or TA as soon as possible and provide written evidence of the reason of the emergency (e.g. doctor’s note).  Late arrival and leaving early will count as absences unless cleared in advance with the TA.

5.     Late work: Assignments will be docked by 1/3 of a grade for each day late, unless the student has cleared an extension with their TA a minimum of 36 hours prior to the deadline.

6.     Preparedness: Bring all assigned texts to the sections for which they have been assigned. Discussion is generally richer when we can refer to the text.

7.     Technology: Laptops and tablets are allowed for taking notes, accessing course materials, and doing research related to lecture. Use of these technologies for any other purpose will result in the revocation of this privilege. Please turn off all other electronics during lecture so you don’t end up being that person frantically shuffling through your bag while your phone happily plays a tune.

8.     Office Hours: You are encouraged to attend office hours with the professor and your TA, especially if you are struggling with course material and low grades. You are strongly recommended come to office hours rather than email questions, because what may seem like a little question may actually lead to a much more interesting conversation about the course material. Office hours is when your instructors can work with you individually to help you with understanding course material, and also help you understand how you can improve your performance on assignments. Though instructors will be in their designated locations during office hours, it is advisable to schedule an appointment in order to guarantee a meeting slot.

9.     Email Policy: Use email when only email will get the job done. If you have an administrative question please double-check the syllabus first. If the information is not there and you decide to email the professor or your TA, the email must include “COMM 10” somewhere in the subject line and your name in the body of the email. Properly addressed email will usually be answered within 24 hours. That said, grades and paper drafts will never be discussed over email: if you do not like your grade or want a paper draft looked over prior to turning it in, you must come to office hours or schedule an appointment.

10.   Disability Accommodation: To obtain services from the Office for Students with Disabilities (OSD), you must apply to that office directly. For more information, check the OSD website @ or call 858.534.4382 (Voice) or 858.534.9709 (TTY). Please let me know what my own role in facilitating your access to the course will be and I will do my absolute best to ensure this. 

11.   Academic Integrity: You will be held to the UCSD Policy on Integrity of Scholarship. Please review this at If one of your papers violates the academic integrity policy—for example, by including un-cited passages taken from an online source or turning in a past student paper—you will fail the assignment. If this happens twice, you will fail the course.

12.   Syllabus: 
The detailed syllabus below outlines the topics, readings, and screenings that constitute the course and that you will be responsible for engaging with as an enrolled student. Please note that the professor may make a few changes to the readings listed below. Every effort will be made to ensure that such changes are kept to a minimum and that any such changes are announced well in advance.


Section attendance & participation:              20%

Weekly reading responses                            30%

Communication analysis project                  30%
Lecture pop quizzes                                    20%


Lecture pop quizzes (20%)

There will be five pop quizzes that will serve to evaluate your attendance and engagement during lecture. They will occur on Fridays and pertain to material covered in lecture during the week. You may miss one quiz during the quarter without it affecting your grade. Each pop quiz will therefore be worth either 4% or 5% of your final grade. Make-up quizzes will not be offered to students missing additional quizzes unless they can demonstrate that each was missed due to an excused absence (see Attendance above).


Weekly reading responses (30%)
Each week your TA will provide you with a question about the readings, which you respond to with a short paper, a maximum 500 words long. Each response MUST be followed by a question or issue about the readings that you would like to discuss further in section. Responses are due to your TA as an email attachment 24 hours before your discussion section meets. They will be evaluated with a check-mark system, and graded based on both the quality of the work and the overall trend in quality. That is, students with an upward trend over the course of the quarter will receive a higher grade than those with a downward trend, even if they receive the same number of  –, -, , +, or + grades on individual papers. Exemplary responses will be selected from each section and posted on TED.

Extended Communication Analysis project (30%)
You will be developing a communication analysis project throughout the quarter, with three components due at specified dates. The purpose of this project is to introduce you to scholarly frameworks and methods for examining dimensions of communication. Each of the three sections corresponds to a specific aspect of communication research and is designed to help you formulate meaningful questions, develop and hone your ability to engage in detailed observation and description, engage analytic frameworks, and consider potential modes of further investigation. Through this project you will demonstrate your grasp of key concepts and terminology in communication research that we will be exploring in this course.

You will begin by selecting a form or mode of communication and a specific example to consider. For the first component you will be describing this example in detail in order to get at what might be important or interesting about it. In the second component you will use key concepts analyze the object and suggest broader implications. Finally, in the third component you will consider ways that one could extend your analysis into a larger scale study. Together the parts of this project serve as an exercise in considering the key questions of this course:

  • What is communication?
  • Where does it occur?
  • How does it occur?
  • Why does it matter?
  • How do we study it?

There is no one right way to do this project, so you will not be graded on whether what you write is “correct” but rather effort, creativity, thoughtfulness and the overall the quality of your work.

Course Schedule

Week Date Topic Readings Assignments Notes
1 Mon Mar 31 Introduction & Overview     WEEK 1: WHAT IS COMMUNICATION?
Wed Apr 02 Defining communication & media Raymond Williams, 1976, "Communication," and "Media," from Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society   WEEK 1: WHAT IS COMMUNICATION?
Fri Apr 04 Language & power Robin Lakoff 1990 “Language, Politics, and Power” Talking Power: The Politics of Language in Our Lives. New York: Basic Books.   WEEK 1: WHAT IS COMMUNICATION?
2 Mon Apr 07 Self as situated practice George Herbert Mead 1993 “The Self, the I, and the Me” (1929) Social Theory: The Multicultural and Classical Readings Charles Lemert, ed. Boulder, CO: Westview.   WEEK 2: LANGUAGE, POWER & IDENTITY
Wed Apr 09 Language, Discourse & Identity Scott Kiesling 2003 “Dude” in American Speech Vol. 79, No. 3.   WEEK 2: LANGUAGE, POWER & IDENTITY
Fri Apr 11 Linguistic practice, Oppression & Identity

Geneva Smitherman, 1980 “White English in Blackface or Who Do I Be?” The State of the Language, eds. Leonard Michaels & Christopher Ricks UC Press.

Gloria Anzaldua 1987 “How to Tame a Wild Tongue” Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza San Francisco: Aunt Lute Books
3 Mon Apr 14 Semiotics Marcel Danesi 1999 “What Does It Mean? How Humans Represent the World” in Of Cigarettes, High Heels, and Other Interesting Things: an Introduction to Semiotics. St. Martin’s Press.   WEEK 3: REPRESENTATION & MEANING-MAKING
Wed Apr 16 Representation & Cultural Discourse Stuart Hall 1997 “Introduction” and part of “The Work of Representation” Representation: Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices Sage Publications.   WEEK 3: REPRESENTATION & MEANING-MAKING
Fri Apr 18 Signification, hegemony, & subculture Dick Hebdige 1979 Subculture: The Meaning of Style   WEEK 3: REPRESENTATION & MEANING-MAKING
4 Mon Apr 21

Advertising race, & sexuality

Dwight McBride 2005 “Why I Hate Abercrombie and Fitch” Why I Hate Abercrombie and Fitch New York: New York University Press. (TED)   WEEK 4: MASS MEDIA REPRESENTATION PRACTICES
Wed Apr 23 Gender & advertising

Vickie Rutledge Shields 2005 “The Less Space We Take the More Powerful We’ll Be.” A Companion to Media Studies, Angharad Valdivia (ed) John Wiley & Sons.

Screen: Jennifer Siebel Newsom, (2011) Miss Representation
Fri Apr 25 Gender representation on TV Julie D’Acci “Television, Representation and Gender” in Robert C. Allen & Annette Hill (eds.) The Television Studies Reader   WEEK 4: MASS MEDIA REPRESENTATION PRACTICES
5 Mon Apr 28 The gaze and power Laura Mulvey 2003 “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” Amelia Jones, ed. The Feminism and Visual Culture Reader. London; New York: Routledge.   WEEK 5: AUDIENCES & VIEWING PRACTICES
Wed Apr 30 The oppositional gaze bell hooks 1992 “The “Oppositional Gaze: Black Female Spectators” Black Looks: Race and Representation South End Press.   WEEK 5: AUDIENCES & VIEWING PRACTICES
Fri May 02 Media technology & imagery Lorna Roth, pages 111-126 of “Looking at Shirley, the Ultimate Norm: Colour Balance, Image Technologies, and Cognitive Equity.” Canadian Journal of Communication, Vol. 34 (1) (TED)   WEEK 5: AUDIENCES & VIEWING PRACTICES
6 Mon May 05 Media technology & culture

Raymond Williams “The Technology and the Society” in Television: Technology and Cultural Form.

Elizabeth Eisenstein 1980 “The Emergence of Print Culture in the West” Journal of Communication Winter. (TED).
Wed May 07 Culture industries Theodore Adorno and Max Horkheimer 1993 “The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception” The Cultural Studies Reader Simon During (ed.) New York: Routledge. (READ TED VERSION)   WEEK 6: MEDIA INDUSTRIES
Fri May 09 Popular media vs. alternative media

Daniel Czitrom 1982 “American Motion Pictures and the New Popular Culture, 1893-1918” Media and American Mind: From Morse to McLuhan Chapel Hill NC: University of North Carolina Press. (TED)

Jane Rhodes 1993 “The Visibility of Race and Media History” Critical Studies in Mass Communication 20:2.
7 Mon May 12

The news media industry

Michael Schudson 2003 “Media Bias (Media Effects Part 2)” The Sociology of News New York: W.W. Norton & Company. (TED)

Walter Lippman 1922 “The World Outside and the Pictures in Our Heads” Chapter One (pages 2-12) of Public Opinion  ( New York: Free Press. (TED)

Michael Schudson 2003 “Where News Came From: The History of Journalism” The Sociology of News New York: W.W. Norton & Company. (TED)

Wed May 14 Social movements & mass media frames Todd Gitlin 2003 “Introduction” and "Media Routines and Political Crisis" in The Whole World is Watching: Mass Media in the Making and Unmaking of the New Left University of California Press.   WEEK 7: JOURNALISM & NEWS MEDIA POLITICS
Fri May 16 Class cancelled
8 Mon May 19  New media & information

Michael Schudson, 2010 "Political observatories, databases & news in the emerging ecology of public information." Daedalus (TED)

Selection from Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, 2006. Control and Freedom: Power and Paranoia in the Age of Fiber Optics, Introduction (TED)
Wed May 21 Social media & digital culture Screen: Generation Like   WEEK 8: NEW MEDIA & SOCIETY
Fri May 23

Social media & social movements

Merlyna Lim 2012 "Clicks, Cabs, and Coffee Houses: Social Media and Oppositional Movements in Egypt, 2004 – 2011" Journal of Communication 62 (TED)


Vicente Rafael 2003, “The Cell Phone and the Crowd: Messianic Politics in the Contemporary Philippines” Public Culture 15:3. (TED)

Sean McBride & Colleen Roach 1989 “The New International Information Order” International Encyclopedia of Communications Erik Barnouw (ed) Oxford University Press

9 Mon May 26 no class - Memorial day      
Wed May 28 Imagining otherness

Binyavanga Wainaina “How to Write About Africa” Granta 92: The View from Africa January 2006.

Horace Miner 1956 “Body Ritual Among the Nacirema” American Anthropologist 58:3, June. (TED)

Screen: The Danger of a Single Story

Bill Nichols, 1991. “The Ethnographer’s Tale” Visual Anthropology Review 7 (2) Fall. (TED)
Fri May 30

Realism & Stereotype

Ella Shohat & Robert Stam, 1994. “Stereotype, Realism, and the Struggle over Representation” Unthinking Eurocentrism: Multiculturalism and the Media London: Routledge.

Alexandra Juhasz, 1992, “‘They said we were trying to show reality – all I want to show is my video’: The politics of the realist feminist documentary.”
Screen 35 (2). (TED)
10 Mon Jun 02

Globalization & Post-colonial Media

Stuart Hall 2002 “The West and the Rest: Discourse and Power” Susanne Schech & Jane Haggis (eds.) Development and Power: A Cultural Studies Reader Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers.

John Sinclair, Elizabeth Jacka and Stuart Cunningham 1996 “Peripheral Vision” New Patterns in Global Television: Peripheral Vision Oxford University Press.

Wed Jun 04 Globalization & Mobility

Tim Cresswell 2006 “The Production of Mobilities at Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam” On the Move: Mobility in the Modern Western World New York: Routledge.

Akosua Darkwah 2002 “Trading Goes Global: Market Women in an Era of Globalization” in Asian Women Vol. 15.
Fri Jun 06 Course Review
11 Fri Jun 13 Final Exam Week
Turn in full revised final project, including all drafts, to MCC Room 127, the Comm Main Office
Final Drafts of Project Due between 3 - 4 pm

Turning it in earlier than this must be worked out in advance with your TA.