Related Courses

PHIL 50.36 Fall '21


Communication pushes people around. Slogans, stories, pictures, graphs, maps, advertisements, film, and music can all convey information. But they can also convince, enthrall, humiliate, enrage, activate, liberate, (dis)empower, and (de)humanize. This course focuses on how some communicative acts, representations, and narratives have such powers. It considers linguistic, political, epistemological, psychological, and aesthetic mechanisms of propaganda. Close examination of examples will be central to the class. More...

FS 44 Winter '22

Theory Meets Practice - Storytelling in the Digital Age

Fake news along with new tech (deep fakes) and emergent social media practices (virtual influencers,  new media forms etc.) comes up a lot in this course. The premise of the course is that people make meaning and understand the world through story (and the students read some distilled neuroscience research on the subject) – specifically the stories we tell ourselves as we participate in other people's stories and games. How stories "work" and engage people is varied, but they tend to share common elements. The opportunity for story creators to engage people and invite them to make meaning has multiplied with available technology and social platforms. More....


Speech 40, Winter term '22

Resistance to Influence: Inoculation Theory-Based Persuasion

This course revisits a classic theory of resistance to influence: inoculation. Inoculation theory is unique. Instead of offering ways to enhance persuasion, inoculation offers resistance to persuasion. We will trace inoculation's development; reconsider some of its assumptions; explore its application in contexts of health, politics, and marketing; and discuss ethics of resistance-based message strategies. Writing and speaking projects will guide our consideration and analysis of this underexplored dimension of rhetoric. More...

PBPL 41/WRIT 41 Spring term '22

Writing & Speaking Public Policy

Writing and Speaking Public Policy is a hands-on experience. The course readings, discussions, and workshops support and build the competencies needed to complete the core student work product for the term: the policy campaign. The course uses politics, law, popular culture, psychology, history, and art, as well as public policy, to draw out fundamental persuasive principles and to explore barriers to effective communication.  The course places considerable emphasis on examining and applying argumentative principles in multi-modal argumentative formats.  "New media" formats have become some of the most pervasive and effective tools of modern persuasion; however, they embed their argumentative techniques in ways the public isn't as well-prepared to identify and evaluate. Therefore, a primary goal of the course is to increase students' literacy in these forms of argument. More...

Russ 38.10.01/COLT 63.03 Spring term '22

Modern Conspiracy

Conspiracy narrative has come to dominate our national and international political discourse like no other time in modern history. It is therefore essential that we understand the operation of conspiracy narrative, its psychological allure and political function, and its devastating social consequences. In this course, we will investigate two national conspiracist traditions, the American and the Russian, and the parallel rise and stunning convergence of Russian and American conspiracism in our current political moment. In order to do so, we will inquire into the historical origins, the form, function, and effectiveness of conspiracist narratives in these two traditions in the 20thand 21stcenturies. Ultimately we will approach conspiracy theories as ways of knowing, of penetrating and ordering complex and opaque realities. They are also powerful narrative weapons that imperil the shared truths on which cohesive societies are based. Our course texts include The Master and Margarita (Bulgakov), The Crucible (Miller), and Libra (DeLillo), The Manchurian Candidate(Frankenheimer), JFK (Stone) and The Matrix (The Wachkowskis) as well as literary and cultural studies of conspiracist narrative and ideation. More...

GOVT 30.04, Spring term '22

Political Misinformation and Conspiracy Theories

Why do people hold false or unsupported beliefs about politics and why are so those beliefs so hard to change? This course will explore the psychological factors that make people vulnerable to political misinformation and conspiracy theories and the reasons that corrections so often fail to change their minds. We will also analyze how those tendencies are exploited by political elites and consider possible approaches that journalists and civic reformers could employ to combat misperceptions. More...

GOVT 83.21, Spring term '22

Experiments in Politics

This class is a lab-style seminar in which we will design, field, and analyze an experimental study of political misinformation or misperceptions. Our goal is to publish a scholarly article about our findings in a peer-reviewed journal of political science - an ambitious project that will require a substantial commitment from each student. Flexibility will also be essential since the course will evolve during the semester based on the needs of the project. More....

ANTH 13/CLST 12.03 Spring term '22

Who Owns the Past?

Modern archaeology grew out of antiquarianism, imperialism, and the attempts of early collectors and scholars to look to the past for aesthetics, to construct identities, and to satisfy their curiosities. This course examines how these legacies, in which lying is standard operating procedure (i.e., the antiquities market), and others in which information is quietly omitted (human remains in many academic and museum contexts), influence contemporary archaeology, museum practices, and policies to manage cultural heritage. The central question will be explored utilizing the perspectives of the relevant actors: archaeologists, collectors, museums, developers, national and local governments, the tourism industry, and descendant communities