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

Class Presentation

Date due: TBA
Value: 30 per cent

This assignment asks you to make an oral presentation lasting about 20 minutes in which you report on the latest research being done on some aspect of persuasion at work in one of the five modes of communication, and then lead a discussion on the topic. That is, this assignment asks you to review the relevant literature on the topic--as opposed to a hands-on analysis of an instance of persuasion--which is the goal of the Term Paper.

This literature review means visiting the library and sifting through the relevant journals (you will find a list of journals that publish articles of interest to COMS students on the COMS 591 Web site), selecting five articles which outline the latest "research," and reporting on the insights the researchers share with their readers (you will find SAMPLE TOPICS in last section below). The idea is to report on the latest research, as opposed to the latest opinion pieces, which appear in such publications as Newsweek or Time; the writers of these articles reports on reports, i.e., they don't undertake research themselves. The works-cited sections of the articles we study will suggest a range of topics.


You will not submit a complete script of your talk, nor will you read from one, but you will submit a proposal comprised of (a) an abstract of about 500 words double-spaced, outlining the insights you plan to share, together with (b) an annotated bibliography single-spaced, in which you make descriptive or evaluative comments on the five texts you have selected (five or six sentences per text should do). This document is due on/shortly after February 15th and is worth 10 per cent. Consider the following guidelines:


Be sure to give some thought to the way you will illustrate your presentation. Try to find some method of display which does not involve passing material around. If you use material from audio or visual tapes, make sure that your clips are very short. If you use slides, make sure that your equipment will not let you down. These materials mere support your presentation; they do not do the job for you. Presentations begin on March 22nd and will continue until the end of term The schedule for the presentations will be agreed upon in class.

The presentation--it is worth 20 per cent--will assessed in terms of (a) content, (b) organization, (c) supporting materials, and (d) delivery.


The objective is to report on the latest research being done on some aspect of persuasion at work in some situation via one of the five modes of communication. The researchers in question may or may not conceptualize their work in terms of "persuasion." You may nevertheless see persuasion as work in the research. Consider the following situations and modes of communication:

  1. the linguistic mode of communication: discourse analysis, including interruptions in face-to-face conversational interaction, doctor-patient talk and cross-gender misunderstanding, rules as observed behaviour regularities, and structuring a conversational argument; how advertisers (mis)use language; sound poetry;

  2. the iconic mode of communication: image management; organizing window displays; designing logos for NHL uniforms (say); architecture as persuasion, e.g., monuments, the cathedral or the shopping mall;

  3. the musical mode of communication: church music, as for weddings and funerals; the efficacy of military music; music and education; music therapy; the use of music in politics and campaigns;

  4. the logico-mathematical mode of communication: statistics as a mode of persuasion; crime-reporting: reported versus the real level of crime; public anxiety and crime reporting; science writing; and

  5. the socio-gestural mode of communication: bodily activity and gestures: winking, smiling, and waving: making a good first impression; signals (gestures) across generations; tone of voice; signalling love and hate in formal (business) settings; dance therapy.

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