Ph.D. Class Descriptions

The following list of courses is subject to change. 

Class Descriptions

Offered annually:

J6030 Journalism and Society. 3 pts. Prof. Tucher. Fall. A seminar surveying the history and the social, political, technological and cultural impact of journalism and the news media from the birth of the newspaper forward. Required of Communications Ph.D. students.

J9042 Communication Research Problems. 3 pts. Spring. This seminar is a weekly workshop for Communications Ph.D. students in the process of writing their dissertations. Students are helped to clarify their dissertation projects, advance works in progress, and address difficulties that emerge along the way. Reading is assigned to suit the projects underway. Required of Communications Ph.D. students in the final year of coursework.

Offered in odd-numbered years:

J8040. Proseminar in Communications. 3 pts. Fall. A survey of essential literature in the field of communications. Required of Communications Ph.D. students.

The following courses are offered on a rotating basis:

Communications, Knowledge, and Power I and II. Prof. John. These two one-semester courses provide graduate students with a topical introduction to major themes in the history of communications in Europe and North America. The focus is on printing, popular journalism, intellectual property rights, state-building, nationalism and the emergence of the public sphere. Attention will be paid to the visual media, and to related developments in science, medicine, business and the arts. Readings are drawn not only from history, but also media studies, literature and historical sociology. CKPI covers the early modern period and the Enlightenment; CKPII covers the Enlightenment to the present. Though the two courses are related, they are administratively distinct. That is, students may enroll in either or both.

Disinformation, Fake News and Democracy. Prof. Tucher. An exploration of the history and current role of fake news and disinformation in public life, placed in the context of the long history (and wide variety) of other kinds of journalism that have also been seen as fake in some way, from the mischievous and the satirical to the opportunistic and the subversive. The focus is on identifying the perpetrators, victims, beneficiaries and debunkers of these efforts and on the changing relationships among journalism, power, authority and democracy.

History of Capitalism. Prof. John. This course introduces graduate students to selected topics in the history of business, technology and the state in colonial America and the United States since 1760. Its primary goal is to enable students to understand, engage and evaluate key themes in the literature. Though some attention is given to older works, the focus is on recent scholarship, methods and approaches. Its secondary goal is to help prepare those students who have elected to take comprehensive examinations in business history, policy history and the history of technology.

Sociology of News. Prof. Schudson. This course offers a review and analysis of classical sociology (back to Tocqueville and Weber), early sociological literature (Robert Park and others), the revival of a sociology of news media in the 1970s (Gans, Gitlin, Tuchman and others) and the extensive flowering of sociology-inflected studies of news in contemporary journalism studies and digital journalism studies, including comparative and non-U.S. studies of news systems (Hallin and Mancini and their critics) and news organizations.

Stories and Society. Prof. Schudson. “Story” or “narrative” are fashionable terms and though all academic fashions should arouse a certain amount of skepticism, this one has with good reason migrated from the humanities to the social sciences in recent decades. This course introduces students to rationales for introducing the concept of narrative into understanding how individuals live their lives, how organizations tell stories that influence the lives of their member or employees or clientele. Some forays into literary theory will be included for what might be learned for understanding stories in social life from what has been learned from studying stories in formal fiction and non-fiction.