Course code:



I - Introductory

Meets the following requirements:

  • HY - History
  • HS - Human Studies

Lab fee:


Typically offered:


This class will provide a broad introductory overview of the history, practice, and core concepts that encompass political communication  through an empirical examination of grounded applications of such strategies primarily in electoral contexts.

In order to capitalize on the salience of the Fall election cycle, the course materials will be based on a series of studies directly tied to electoral campaigns in the United States. Instead of studying various theories of political persuasion in the abstract, we will extract principles that commonly appear in political messaging from both contemporary and historical examples. In addition, we will examine current controversies in the field of political communication related to both ethical and legal considerations. Beyond their engagement with class sessions, students will participate in two collaborative projects. The first will involve tracking political persuasion techniques in campaigns that are occurring in real time during the term. The second will involve students working in teams to produce their own political messaging materials for a hypothetical campaign. 

The overall goals of the course are three-fold. First, to provide a broad survey of the history of political campaign communication and advertising as it has developed in the United States. Second, to confront some of the pragmatic issues that go into producing messaging strategies for electoral candidates. Third, to help students cultivate a more critical approach to analyzing the political messages that they confront in their daily lives. The class will be highly interactive with discussion being the primary mode of instruction. However, there will also lecture components that provide the historical basis for the case studies we are examining. 

Final evaluation will based on a combination of class participation, several take home essay assignments, the contemporary tracking assignment, and a final creative project in which student produce their own campaign materials. The class is open to all students, regardless of their experience in politics or their knowledge of American history. It is well suited for introductory students who are interested in politics, human persuasion, and mass communication. However, it is also equally valuable for advanced students seeking to deepen their understanding of political persuasion.



Always visit the Registrar's Office for the official course catalog and schedules.