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COMM 658: Dark Arts of Communication: Manipulation, Propaganda, Demagoguery (syllabus)

We will examine how “dark persuasion” techniques like propaganda and demagoguery relate to democracy, democratic deliberation, media, and communication ethics. The course is designed to give graduate students a strong background in issues related to democracy and democratic erosion, demagogues and demagoguery, and the weaponized communication practices of propaganda. We will examine difficult questions of ethics in persuasion, consent, and how to create a productive public sphere. We will examine historical and current cases of demagoguery and propaganda by governments, corporations, politicians, and citizens. We will closely examine how our brains process information and how those natural processes lead to cognitive weaknesses that are exploited by dark arts techniques.

COMM 438: Propaganda. (syllabus)

We will examine issues relevant to the public sphere, citizenship, and democracy by examining propaganda in American political discourse. Our readings and discussions will focus on four topics: 1) understanding propaganda; 2) propaganda message creation and analysis; 3) propaganda circulation and amplification; and, 4) whether or not it is possible to debunk propaganda. Our course readings, class discussions, and written work will examine the importance of propaganda in American political discourse.


COMM 440: Presidential Communication. (syllabus)

​There has been a distinct disruption in presidential communication over the past four years. This course will put those changes into their institutional and historical context. We will examine how American presidents have responded to changes in communication technologies in a predictable arc from the rhetorical presidency to the post-rhetorical presidency to the outrage presidency. We will examine both traditional topics related to communication and the American presidency and recent concerns about communication and the American presidency. We will also examine how President Donald Trump has harnessed the logics of outrage, engagement, and attention to dominate the American public sphere.

Course Descriptions
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