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Jun 13 / Talya Slaw

Winter 2014 semester review

Now that the semester is wrapped up (and I am home from all of my adventures), I wanted to talk about the classes I took this semester so you can get a glimpse into the schedule of someone wrapping up their communication major.

My Winter 2014 schedule:

COM 4140: Pop and Celebrity Culture
COM 5120: Public Address
COM 5900: Senior Project
PS 3450: Environmental Policy and Politics

I am also doing my Honors thesis this semester, but I will save that for another post.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a double major with a minor and staying for a full fifth year. Even though I don’t graduate until May 2015, however, I completed my communication studies major this semester. And, I have to say, I really enjoyed my last communication studies classes:

*if you would like to know more about the Political Science class I took this past Winter, feel free to let me know in the comments!

COM 4140 – Pop and Celebrity Culture.
This is the type of class you tell your mom about and she goes “what? Why are you taking that?” However, I LOVED this class and really learned a lot about critically analyzing the world of pop culture that constantly surrounds us. We spent the semester learning about different research methods (such as the traditional critical essay, photo essays, and even art displays), reading scholarly articles that showed us how to deploy those methods and talk about popular culture, and talking about case studies.

Additionally, there was a semester long research project. The end goal was a paper that deployed a method we had discussed to analyze some facet of popular culture. Along the way, we had assignments due to help us write the paper, including a formal and informal topic proposal, formal and informal presentations, and an outline.

The class also gave me the opportunity to write about something I’m interested in that I haven’t been able to research before — how women are portrayed in popular movies. I focused on the role of women in Peter Jackson’s the Lord of the Rings film trilogy. These movies are traditionally criticized for not having many women. I argued that though there are few women, the women that do appear are excellent characters, with important themes, story arcs, and characteristics.

Having an excellent teacher made this class great as well. PhD student Stanislav Kozadayev taught it. He always stayed after class for questions or more discussion and was flexible enough to let classroom discussion flow in different directions. He was also always available by email (or in his office) if you needed help with anything related to the final paper!

COM 5120 – Public Address.
This is the class where you learn about things that immediately come to mind when you think about a “communication” major who studies “rhetoric.” We spent the semester analyzing famous speeches. The class was divided by type of speech — inaugural, State of the Union, Convention speeches, war rhetoric, apology, scandal, tragedy, etc. Within each, we watched and analyzed 2-4 speeches – some very famous, like FDR’s “Day of Infamy” speech, and some only famous locally, like Kwame’s apology speech after his texting scandal broke.

I enjoyed this class quite a bit. It was exciting to finally see the speeches you hear so much about and get to talk about what makes them good or bad from a communication perspective. I’m sure as I see more public speeches in the future, it was also make me a better critical listener and analyzer.

This class was taught by Dr. Ron Stevenson, an excellent professor in the communication department. This is Dr. Stevenson’s area of interest and research, so he is quite knowledgeable on the subject and great for asking questions! He always has some great questions to spark discussion (and debate) in class as well. If you have a chance to take a class with Dr. Stevenson, you absolutely should!

COM 5900: Senior Project.
This is the capstone class for the communication major. It’s meant to be the last communication class you take in your last semester of study. So, everything leads up to this.

This class was awesome at preparing students for the world outside of college. The class was divided into two sections – the first was basically “how to get a job.” We did mock interviews, learned how to properly craft a resume and cover letter, and how to look at job descriptions critically, so that the resume and cover letter could be written to match exactly what the employer is looking for. This was incredibly helpful and I feel much more prepared to hand over my resume and cover letter to a future employer now.

The second part of the class was about research. We were divided into two groups – interview and survey – and then set out to answer questions about what people do with a comm degree after college and what employers are looking for in today’s job market. We then broke into smaller groups and presented our findings to comm faculty, COM 2000 students, etc. This was excellent because it gave us 1) hands on experience in conducting research and 2) information about what classes we should take and what skills we should develop to better prepare ourselves for the job market.

Finally, the class was taught by Dr. Kathryn Maguire. She is amazing. Always energetic and enthusiastic, Dr. Maguire is great at keeping the class motivated and on track, answering any questions you may have (or finding the answers to a question she doesn’t know), and just generally helping students out! Quite a few of my classmates were in the process of applying for jobs, so taking this class at the same time was extra helpful.

In the Fall I will be taking:

ENG 3085: Introduction to Rhetoric and Writing
HIS 4990: Directed Study – I will be studying the history of agriculture and food culture
PS 3050: Politics of the American Presidency
PS 3710: Politics of Western Europe

I am quite excited for this schedule as well!

Stayed tuned for the next post, which will be about my trip to Budapest, Hungary!