Political Communication Syllabus
In this course, you will learn about major areas of research related to political communication, public opinion, and the media. You will connect scholarly work to insights from leading strategists and journalists, and to contemporary trends and issues. We will focus on the varying ways that campaigns, news, technology, social movements, philanthropy, and ideas influence societal decisions, elections and our democracy.
- Class Participation (10%): You are expected to attend every class unless you have an excused absence. (Please email me in advance if you will not be in attendance.) You are also expected to actively participate in class, to do the reading in advance, and to share readings, news articles, and examples that you encounter outside of class that may be relevant to discussion.
- In Class Exam #1 (20%) and In Class Exam #2 (20%): You will be completing two in class, open book essay exams that test your understanding of key theories, topics, and concepts and your ability to apply these principles to strategy.
- Annotated Bibliography (15%): For your semester-long research paper, you will be analyzing the political communication dimensions of a major national policy issue, type of campaign strategy, political movement, or similar topic. To inform your analysis, you will be preparing an annotated bibliography of 15 relevant scholarly and research-based sources.
- Final Research Paper (35%): You will research and write a 15 paper drawing on your annotated bibliography and other sources, assessing the major findings and insights from scholarship relevant to your topic, and the implications for understanding the nature of political debate and for informing the work of political professionals, advocates, and/or journalists.
- Annotated Bibliography — OCT 4
- In Class Exam #1 — OCT 11
- First Draft of Paper Due–NOV 1
- In Class Exam #2 — DEC 3
- Final Revised Paper Due — Scheduled Final Exam Day TBA
Fri Sept 7 — Course OverviewTues.
1–Sept. 10 & Fri. Sept 13 — Authoritarianism and populism in the 2016 election
- Engesser, S., Ernst, N., Esser, F., & Büchel, F. (2017). Populism and social media: How politicians spread a fragmented ideology. Information, communication & society, 20(8), 1109-1126.
- Oliver, J. E., & Rahn, W. M. (2016). Rise of the Trumpenvolk: Populism in the 2016 Election. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 667(1), 189-206.
- Pettigrew, T. F. (2017). Social psychological perspectives on Trump supporters. Journal of Social and Political Psychology, 5(1), 107-116.
- Singal, J. (2018, July 15). How Social Science Might be Misunderstanding Conservatives. New York magazine.
2–Tues Sept 17 & Fri Sept 20 — Television, entertainment, and authoritarianism
- Ross, A. (2016). The Frankfurt School Knew that Trump Was Coming. The New Yorker, Dec. 5.
- Postman, A. (2017). My dad predicted Trump in 1985 – it’s not Orwell, he warned, it’s Brave New World. The Guardian, Feb. 2.
- Gabriel, S., Paravati, E., Green, M. C., & Flomsbee, J. (2018). From Apprentice to President: The role of parasocial connection in the election of Donald Trump. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 9(3), 299-307.
- Morgan, M., & Shanahan, J. (2017). Television and the cultivation of authoritarianism: A return visit from an unexpected friend. Journal of Communication, 67(3), 424-444.
3–Tues. Sept. 24 & Fri Sept. 27 — Social media, misinformation, and the 2016 election
- Grinberg, N., Joseph, K., Friedland, L., Swire-Thompson, B., & Lazer, D. (2019). Fake news on Twitter during the 2016 US presidential election. Science, 363(6425), 374-378.
- Anspach, N. M., & Carlson, T. N. (2018). What to believe? Social media commentary and belief in misinformation. Political Behavior, 1-22.
- Groshek, J., & Koc-Michalska, K. (2017). Helping populism win? Social media use, filter bubbles, and support for populist presidential candidates in the 2016 US election campaign. Information, Communication & Society, 20(9), 1389-1407.
- Benkler, Y., Faris, R., Roberts, H., & Zuckerman, E. (2017). Study: Breitbart-led right-wing media ecosystem altered broader media agenda. Columbia Journalism Review.
- Mayer, J. (2018, Sept. 28). How Russia Helped Swing the Election for Trump. The New Yorker.
- Bauerlein, M. & Jeffrey, C. (2019, March/April). How Facebook Screwed Us All. Mother Jones.
4–Tues. Oct 1 & Fri Oct. 4 — Journalism, Trump, and the 2016 election
- Patterson, T. E. (2016). News Coverage of the 2016 General Election: How the Press Failed the Voters. Cambridge, MA: Shorenstein Center on Media, Policy, and Public Policy, Harvard University.
- Wells, C., Shah, D. V., Pevehouse, J. C., Yang, J., Pelled, A., Boehm, F., … & Schmidt, J. L. (2016). How Trump drove coverage to the nomination: Hybrid media campaigning. Political Communication, 33(4), 669-676.
- Lawrence, R. G., & Boydstun, A. E. (2017). What we should really be asking about media attention to Trump. Political Communication, 34(1), 150-153.
Tues. Oct 8 TBA & Fri Oct 11 First Exam
5–Tues. Oct 15 & Fri Oct 18 — Identity politics, voters, and elections
- Bartels, L. M. (2016). Failure to converge: Presidential candidates, core partisans, and the missing middle in American electoral politics. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 667(1), 143-165.
- Edsall, T. (2019). How Far Left Is Too Far Left for 2020 Democrats? The New York Times.
- McCall, L., & Orloff, A. S. (2017). The multidimensional politics of inequality: taking stock of identity politics in the US Presidential election of 2016. The British journal of sociology, 68, S34-S56.
- Knowles, E. D., & Tropp, L. R. (2018). The racial and economic context of Trump support: Evidence for threat, identity, and contact effects in the 2016 Presidential Election. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 9(3), 275-284.
- Chua, A. (2018, Mar 1). How America’s identity politics went from inclusion to division. The Guardian.
- Edsall, T. (2019). We Aren’t Seeing White Support for Trump for What It Is. The New York Times.
- Cohn, N. & Quely, K. (2019, April 9). The Democratic Electorate on Twitter Is Not the Actual Democratic Electorate. The New York Times, Upshot blog.
- Chait, J. (2019, Sept. 13). What If the Only Democrat Who Isn’t Too Radical to Win Is Too Old? New York Magazine.
6–Tues. Oct 22 & Fri Oct 25 — Campus politics and free speech
- Lukianoff, G., & Haidt, J. (2015). The coddling of the American mind. The Atlantic, 316(2), 42-52.
- Robbins, S. P. (2016). From the editor—Sticks and stones: Trigger warnings, microaggressions, and political correctness. Journal of Social Work Education, 1, 1-5.
- Callan, E. (2016). Education in Safe and Unsafe Spaces. Philosophical Inquiry in Education, 24(1), 64-78.
- Ceci, S. J., & Williams, W. M. (2018). Who Decides What Is Acceptable Speech on Campus? Why Restricting Free Speech Is Not the Answer . Perspectives on Psychological Science, 13(3), 299323.
- Geher, G. (2018). The Problem with Psychology: A brief history of the heterodox movement in psychology. Psychology Today.
- Davies, W. (2018, July 26). The free speech panic: how the right concocted a crisis. The Guardian.
- Pew Research Center (2018, July 26). Most Americans say higher ed is heading in wrong direction, but partisans disagree on why. Washington, DC.
- Sullivan, A. (2019, Sept. 13). The New York Times Has Abandoned Liberalism for Activism. New York Magazine
7–Tues. Oct 29 & Fri Nov 1 — Framing, public opinion, and the gun control debate
- Steidley, T., & Colen, C. G. (2017). Framing the gun control debate: press releases and framing strategies of the National Rifle Association and the Brady Campaign. Social Science Quarterly, 98(2), 608-627.
- McGinty, E. E., Wolfson, J. A., Sell, T. K., & Webster, D. W. (2016). Common sense or gun control? Political communication and news media framing of firearm sale background checks after Newtown. Journal of health politics, policy and law, 41(1), 3-40.
- Lacombe, M. J. (2019). The Political Weaponization of Gun Owners: The National Rifle Association’s Cultivation, Dissemination, and Use of a Group Social Identity. The Journal of Politics, 81(4), 000-000.
- MacGillis, A. (2013, May 28). This is how the NRA ends. New Republic.
- Witt, E. (2019, Feb. 13). From Parkland to Sunrise: A Year of Extraordinary Youth Activism. The New Yorker.
- Kingsbury, A. (2019, Aug 9.) It’s too late to ban assault weapons. The New York Times.
8–Tues Nov 5 & Fri Nov 8 — Climate change, energy politics & communication
- Hestres, L. E. (2018). Take action now: Motivational framing and action requests in climate advocacy. Environmental Communication, 12(4), 462-479.
- Nisbet, M. C. (2018). Strategic philanthropy in the post‐Cap‐and‐Trade years: Reviewing US climate and energy foundation funding. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, 9(4), e524.
- Hestres, L. E., & Hopke, J. E. (2019). Fossil fuel divestment: theories of change, goals, and strategies of a growing climate movement. Environmental Politics, 1-19.
- Stephens, J. C., Frumhoff, P. C., & Yona, L. (2018). The role of college and university faculty in the fossil fuel divestment movement. Elem Sci Anth, 6(1).
- Klein, N. (2018, Nov. 27). The game changing promise of a Green New Deal. The Intercept.
- Nisbet, M. C. (2019). The Green New Dilemma. Issues in Science and Technology, 35(3), 29-31.
- Hertsgaard, M. & Pope, K. (2019). The media are complacent while the world burns. The Nation, April 22.
- Nisbet, M.C. (2019). The Trouble With Climate Emergency Journalism. Issues in Science and Technology 35, 4, 23–26.
- Nordhaus, Ted. The Empty Radicalism of the Climate Apocalypse. Issues in Science and Technology 35, no. 4 (Summer 2019): 69–78.
Tues Nov 11 & Fri Nov 18 — Class presentations
Tues Nov 18 & Nov 22 — Class presentations
Tues Nov 26 — TBA
Tues Dec 3 — Second In-Class exam.