Faculty of Communication and Culture
Communications Studies (COMS) 591.03: Senior Seminar in Communication
Winter 2006

Term Paper

Date due: March 29th
Length: 8 typed pages (double-spaced) maximum
Value: 35 per cent

Choose some current (but no earlier than January 18th) public celebration, campaign, exhibition, or performance, wherein the organisers of this event utilize four or five of the modes of communication to "influence" an audience's thinking, feeling, or behaviour, and analyze the persuasion at work in two or three modes, utilizing one of the Terministic Screens we study in this course. These include

The objective is not to describe the event per se but to show how, by employing one of the Terministic Screens study in the course, one in fact constructs "reality." As Kenneth Burke (1966) explained, the nature of the terms we use affects the nature of our observations, in the sense of directing our attention to one field rather than to another.

One of the challenges of any analysis like the one outlined here is to be self-reflexive, that is, helping the non-specialist reader understand what you are doing and why you are doing it. This means helping the reader see how you operationalize the principles that shape your project. Therefore, be sure to provide the reader early on with an overview of the event under consideration, stressing the effect the organizers seek to achieve, together with an overview of the approach (i.e., the Terministic Screen) employed, establishing the context needed to appreciate your analysis.

Papers will be read with an eye on the following criteria: (a) conformity to the assignment, in terms of the difficulty of topic and the quality of research generally; (b) analytical sophistication: the researcher provides a sufficient context for appreciating the proposed research; (c) rhetorical effectiveness: she conveys her insight into this figure's work in clear and direct langauge; and (d) presentation: the writer provides a neat and well-organized document.

Remember that this exercise requires the hands-on analysis of persuasion, as opposed to the study of it in the abstract, which makes up the task of the Presentation. That is, the exercise involves analyzing a text of some sort. Some extra reading should be required, by way of putting the discussion into social, economic, and political context. Do not recycle a project you have studied or a studying in another course. Consider the following guidelines:


One might analyze

  1. a public celebration, such as Family Literacy, Calgary Public Library, January 2006, or Calgary Winter Festival, Olympic Plaza, 11-21 February 2006, focusing on persuasion at work via the linguistic and the iconic modes of communication;

  2. a fund-raising campaign conducted by a non-profit organization, such as the United Way of Calgary, the 7th Annual Celebration of Community, starting 2 February 2006, or the University of Calgary fund raising campaign, Alumni Association, focusing on persuasion at work via the linguistic, the iconic, and the musical modes of communication;

  3. an exhibition of paintings, such as Painting under Pressure: A look at Graffiti, at the Art Gallery of Calgary, 117 8th Avenue S.W., 9 December-1 April 2006, or Petra: Lost City of Stone, at the Glenbow Museum, until 20 February 2006, focusing on persuasion at work via the iconic and the linguistic modes of communication; and

  4. a live performance, such as (a) a play: playRites Festival of New Canadian Plays, organised by Alberta Theatre Projects, Epcor Centre, 24 January-5 March 2006, or Bernard Shaw's play, Saint John, directed by Neil Munro, presented by Theatre Calgary, 24 January-24 February 2006; (b) a program of music: Sister Helen Prejean, Dead Man Walking, presented by Calgary Opera, 28 January-3 February 2006, or Cloud Walking, presented by New Works Calgary at Eckhardt-Grammate Hall, University of Calgary, Saturday, 28 January 2006; or (c) a program of dance: Alberta Dance Explosions 2006, presented by Dancers' Studio West, 2007 10th Avenue S.W., 9-11, 16-18, and 23-25 February 2006, focusing on persuasion at work via the linguistic, the iconic, the musical, or the socio-gestural modes of communication, as the case may be.

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