48C:160g Political Communication

Fall 2002

New information will appear in pink

assignment due dates are in red

links are in purple

Complete Paper Draft link -- for anyone who wants to check the paper out.


LINK TO DATA: read before final exam period.

meets from 6:00-8:50, Tues, in Lang 346

Catherine H. Palczewski, Ph.D.

e-mail: palczewski@uni.edu

office: Lang 341, x32714 hours:

office hours:

For longer meetings:

Tuesday 2:00-3:00

Wednesday 2:00-3:00

I also will be in my office with previously scheduled student meetings at the following times. If you have a quick question, feel free to call or drop by:

Tuesday 3:00-5:00

Wednesday 11:00-12:00

If none of these times work, feel free to email or call for an appointment  


Weeks at a glance:

Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7 Week 8 Week 9

Week 10 Week 11 Week 12 Week 13 Week 14 Week 15 Week 16 Final


Purpose: Political communication, broadly defined, is any form of communication that implements, negotiates, or recognizes power relations. In this way, political communication may occur between two people, or it may be a speech heard by millions. This course, however, will focus on two specific areas of U.S. political communication: the presidential and the public. The first half of the course will examine rhetoric related to the presidential election process, from campaign to election. The second half will look at the intersections of presidential rhetoric and public controversy by examining presidential rhetoric from inaugural to farewell. Throughout the course, we will examine the interplay of sex, race, and class with public policy issues and the political process.



1) Achieve an understanding of how presidents and candidates employ and are constrained by rhetorical genres.

2) Improve rhetorical criticism skills.

3) Inquire into the intersection of race, sex, sexual orientation, gender, and power.

4) Recognize how public discourse creates political realities.

5) Improve discussion skills.

6) Improve understanding of and facility with electronic communication technologies.

7) Learn about the research and writing process.



Trent, Judith S and Robert V. Friedenberg. Political Campaign Communication. Westport, CN: Praeger, 2000. (PCC)

Hollihan, Thomas A. Uncivil Wars: Political Campaigns in a Media Age. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's. 2001. (UW)

Additional readings for the class are located in a packet (available from UNI's copy services, located in the basement of the library) and from electronic sources. You are required to access all electronic sources listed in the syllabus (this should be easy because the electronic syllabus contains links to all readings listed). You will be expected to print out paper copies of electronic documents so that you can refer to them in class during discussion. Basically, anything without a link is located in the reading packet. If you have any trouble accessing links, immediately let me know. I have copied many of the speeches to local files in case the linked sites go down.

In some cases, you will see "(analysis)" after some of the speeches. After we have discussed these speeches in class, I will post a summary of the rhetorical analysis we have completed. These are offered as models you can use for the outline of your short paper.


The syllabus is subject to change. Should a change occur, it will appear in pink on the page.



1) Collective research paper [assignments total 40%]. I want to try an experimental assignment that would involve the entire class in collecting data for, and writing, a collective research paper. As you will soon note, there is a recurring theme in the literature about how youth voters (18-24 years old) are apathetic. A number of attempts have been made to increase youth involvement in the political process (such as Rock the Vote), but the low rates persist, and (not surprisingly) politicians continue to target their messages at the older citizens, who tend to vote in much larger percentages. At least one of the authors we read argues that voter apathy is attributable to the mix of money, media cynicism, and negative advertising that now dominates campaigns. But, no specific evidence that these things influence youth voters is offered. So, I want to figure out why young people do not vote, and whether 9/11 has had any effect on this.

The goal of this assignment is to develop a paper of publishable quality. All participating members of the class will be listed as authors. In the process, I hope to familiarize you with the processes of scholarly writing.

A. Facts on voting [5%]. Due September 3. Each student is required to find out the answer to 1 of the the following questions. Please make sure to provide complete bibliographic information for all facts. Provide copies of documents when possible. If you find an answer to a question no one else has, you get 5 points. if another person has the same answer and source, you get 2.5 (so answer 2 questions).
1. What is the national rate of voting in 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2001 for people ages
a. 18-24

b. all other age ranges

2. What is the Iowa state rate of voting in 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2001 for people ages

a. 18-24

b. all other age ranges

3. What is the rate of voting in 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2001 in Black Hawk County for people ages

a. 18-24

b. all other age ranges

4. What differences generally exist between on and off-year elections.

5. What are the general range of ages used when people refer to young voters. Are we right to focus on 18-24?

6. What income ranges are typically used in surveys?

7. What makes Iowa a unique or representative state in terms of voter participation?

8. Additional questions may be added.

B. Literature review [10%]. Each student is required to find at least 5 essays (scholarly essays, books or book chapters, quality web publications, and/or lengthy mass media reports) on youth voting patterns. If no other student has found the essay, then it is worth up to 2 points. Duplicative essays are worth up to 1 point (hence there is an incentive to find 10 essays). For each essay, students need to provide a cover abstract (link to an example of the abstract) as well as a complete copy of the essay. On the day the abstracts are due, we will discuss the essays and then develop the literature review for the paper. Common themes will be identified, facts will be checked on exact rates of voting, and the introduction for the paper will be written. Accordingly, please be very familiar with the articles. Due September 17. Email all abstracts to me as attachments, labeled: yourlastnameAb1, yourlastnameAb2, etc.

Bibliography redo: Each of you is to revise your bibliographic entries from the literature reviews. Each entry should comply with APA format. You should RETYPE your CORRECTED bibliographic citations onto a single document page, and then email them to me as an attachment. This is due October 15 (but the sooner the better). Doing this, and doing it right, will be a prerequisite for earning ANY points for editing. If there are any errors in your citations, I will simply send them back and ask you to try again. There are MULTIPLE copies of the APA manual (5th edition) located in the library:

Publication manual of the American Psychological Association, 5th ed

UNI Ref Desk CBT BF76.7 .P83 2001, BF76.7 .P83 2001 c.2

UNI Reserve BF76.7 .P83 2001, BF76.7 .P83 2001 c.2

UNI A/M Office BF76.7 .P83 2001

Literature Review redo: I am giving you the option of redoing the literature review. You will be able to earn back up to half of the points you lost. The literature review should comply with the original requirements outlined in the syllabus: you should find "essays (scholarly essays, books or book chapters, quality web publications, and/or lengthy mass media reports) on youth voting patterns." You should not duplicate an article we already have; you can check for duplication by looking at the box of articles located in the Comm. Studies Department mail room. When you turn in your redone literature review, please also turn in your original assignment. Essays for the literature review can be found in one of three ways:

1) check your original assignment and see if I asked you to track down a reference from your short article (remember to check and see if we already have that article by checking in the box of articles located in the Communication Studies Department faculty mail room),

2) review the articles in the box and see if I indicated, on the front of the folder, that a primary document should be found. If you are going to track that document down, please initial the folder so that others do not duplicate your work. If you track down a website for an organization, please make sure you provide sufficient pages to provide a complete picture of the organization (mission, description, assessments, lists of activities, reports, etc.),

3) find an article using electronic indexes and/or through reviews of indexes of pertinent Political Science and Communication Studies scholarly journals.

You will not receive credit for an essay if it duplicates an essay we already have.

The literature review redo is due: October 22.


C. Interviews [20%]. Conduct 5 interviews with people ages 18-24 who are residents of Iowa, and hence are eligible voters. We will have a demographic form (link to form) that uses a code (code designations will be your initials and the number 1-5) and it will record demographic information. We also will develop a short set of questions (link to questions) you will use to guide the interview. Please make sure no one else has interviewed the people you choose. Audio-record the interview and label it with the person's code and the date of the interview. Transcribe the interview. As you transcribe, think about the themes that emerge. As a group, we will come together and see if there are common themes guiding young folks' decisions to vote or not to vote. Due November 12. You will have from September 17 to November 12 to interview five people and transcribe the interviews.

Human subjects review has been approved, and you may begin your interviews. As discussed in class: 1) you should conduct the interview in private, so that others do not overhear the answers to the questions, 2) do not push people to participate if they do not want to, and 3) you cannot interview anyone in the class.

Checklist for interviews:

1. Do a soundcheck on the tape recorder.

2. Get all participants to sign the consent form. Write in the code on the form.

3. Get all participants to complete the demographic form.

4. Use the question sheet to guide the interview.

5. After the interview, remember to mark the code on the tape.

D. Paper editing [5%]. As the paper is written, it will be posted on the website. You are responsible for printing it out, editing it, and returning the edits to me. There will be two major times for edits:

1) of the intro, Due October 22, and

2) of the final paper Due December 17. This final edit is very important. We will spend the final exam period checking for quotation accuracy, paper coherence, etc. It is imperative that you bring all interview transcripts, abstracts, articles, etc. to the final for editing purposes.

2) Midterm exam [15%]. The exam will be in essay and/or short answer format. October 29. When studying for the midterm, use the key terms as a study guide. I will write the midterm based on the list of key terms. However, many of the questions will ask you to apply the key terms to an example of political communication. Accordingly, you will need to be familiar with all of the speeches read in class. A good way to study would be to have a study sheet that lists the key term, a definition of it, and then lists all the examples available from class discussions and from the readings.

Link to midterm answer guide. If you would like to argue for a higher grade, you may do so. In order to petition you need to make, in writing, an argument why you think you deserve more credit for an answer. As part of your argument, you should cite evidence from the lectures, textbooks, and reading packet. Any petition for an altered grade is due, to the Communication Studies main office, by November 19, 2002, by 5:00 p.m. Please make sure you get one of the workers in the main office to date, time, and initial your petition, and then place it in my office mailbox. You may also email your request to me. If you choose to send your request via email, it needs to be sent before 6pm on November 19, 2002.

3) Political scavenger hunt [10% ]. Throughout the semester, you should bring campaign items into class. Even though much of our readings discuss presidential politics, we will also focus on the Iowa governor's race between Vilsack and Gross, the House race between Nussle and Hutchinson, and the Senate race between Harkin and Ganske, so you should try to find items from those races. There is no set due date on these items. Instead, I will integrate them as you find them. However, you will get a bonus if your item matches the theme of the day. So, for example, when discussing announcements, it would be great if you could bring in a copy of these folks' announcements. On the day we discuss ads, it would be great for you to bring in examples of ads. However, you are not bound to this. Along with your item, you should prepare a short presentation about it (5-10 minutes long), and an outline to be handed in before the presentation (so make two copies). Copies of all items need to be provided to me (and you may not get the item back). Make sure you note the source of the item (for example, if it is a newspaper ad), the day on which it aired (if it is a TV or radio ad), etc. Some application of class readings or outside research is expected (for example, if you bring in a campaign button, I expect you to do research on the role of such items in campaigns, their history, etc.). The worth of the item is relative to the difficulty of finding it. What follows is a rough valuation:

1. Videotape of TV or audiotape of radio ads: up to 5 points each

2. Video- or audio-tape of campaign speech: up to 10 points

3. Text of campaign speech: up to 2.5 points

4. Campaign handouts (buttons, fliers, doorhangers, etc): up to 2 points

We are now 7 weeks into the semester, and no one has done any of these. As we will discuss in class, this creates a problem in that the class was not structured assuming we would need to devote more than 15-20 minutes per class period to presentations. As a not-so-gentle warning, you all should start bringing these to class. As it is, I will not allow more than 3 presentations per class period. Given there are only 7 sessions left where presentations could be made, you all need to start doing them now. Otherwise, you run the risk of not being able to do the presentation, and your grade will be affected accordingly. It is your responsibility to get these done in a timely manner.

4) Short paper (8 pages) [10%]. This paper should be a rhetorical analysis of a political address not in the packet. A link to speech sources is available here. An appropriate and consistent citation format should be used.

Sources other than the speech should be used in writing the paper and included in the bibliography. While it is possible to do a passable criticism using only the speech, research into the rhetorical situation is expected. Due December 10, but you need a draft by November 19. Additional research is available here and here.

When you turn in the paper on the 10th, staple the marked/edited version and a copy of the speech analyzed to the back of the final draft. You are responsible for turning in a copy of the edited version with the editor's name on it. If you are worried that your editing will be lost, feel free to make a copy after the editing class.

Your paper needs to make an argument about the quality of the speech. To prepare to write the paper, you should begin with analyzing the rhetorical situation, and then identify the 7 elements in the speech. However, this does not mean your paper will be arranged around these elements. Instead, once your initial analysis is done, determine what the most significant choices were and use them to structure the analysis section of the paper. The general paper structure should include: an introduction that predicts your argument, an analysis of the resources and problems arising from the elements of the rhetorical situation, a descriptive analysis of the choices the rhetor made in response to the situation, and a discussion of whether the choices were ethical and effective given the situation. You should use evidence from the text as much as possible to support the claims made in your descriptive analysis.

Outside resources can be used to help describe the situation. They also can be used to help you identify rhetorical moves in the text. However, the ultimate judgment of whether the speech is a good one or not ought to be argued by you. Simply concluding that the speech is good (or bad) because that is what newspaper reports said is not sufficient. I want to read your analysis of the speech.

An example of a paper is available here.

5) Peer editing [5%]. bring a draft of your short paper to class on Nov 19. At that time, you will be paired with someone else in the class, you should exchange papers and make editorial comments on each others' papers. Comments should be both substantive and stylistic. Mark all comments on the paper. At the end of class, sign the paper you are editing. Please use the entire class period -- it will take that long to do a good job editing. Your editing will be graded.  

6) Discussion [20%]. In-class discussion: A full description of in class discussion grading criteria is available by following the discussion link. Heavy emphasis will be placed on participation during collective paper writing days.

Brain bounties. I always appreciate it when someone shares the citation for an excellent article, book, or website so that I can add it to the bibliography. I also appreciate it when people indicate when faulty links exist on the syllabus. Given that this is only the second time I have taught this course with such a heavy electronic emphasis, I need you to help me make sure everything works the way it should. Although this is not extra credit, per se, it will help you out at the end of the semester if you are on the verge of a higher grade. Also, should a question be asked in class for which I do not have a ready answer, if you research the answer then you are eligible for a bounty.

General Information: this link explains late assignment, ADA, and other pertinent policies governing course management.


Week 1: August 27: Introduction to political communication in the electronic age

key terms: public sphere, genre, elements of a rhetorical artifact, elements of a rhetorical situation, elements of cyberpolitics, collective memory, 4 factors causing change in political campaigns, public sphere

review: webpages for Gross, Vilsack, Hutchinson, Nussle, Harkin, Ganske. . . if they are up yet.

read: PCC 1-18. UW 1-22, 139-163



Week 2: September 3: Youth voting research project

key terms: political socialization, agenda setting, ideology, push polling, sampling, survey construction

read: UW 41-54, 115-138, 177-219.

Polling bibliography

voting facts due

develop initial questionnaire


Week 3: September 10: the announcement

key terms: surfacing, instrumental rhetoric, consummatory rhetoric, functions of campaigns, stages of political campaigns, rhetorical situation, purpose of announcement speech

read: PCC 19-42, 207-215, UW 23-40.

announcement addresses by

Bush (6/12/99)


Gore, Gore try 2



Myth in American politics


Week 4: September 17: Literature review day. Bring in abstracts and articles.

Finalize questionnaire. Write the paper intro. The questions will be posted on the webpage. Please make sure you use the questionnaire when conducting the interviews.


Week 5: September 24: the convention

key terms: function of conventions, surrogates, benefits of surrogates, elements of a keynote

read: PCC 43-54, 198-206


Jordan, Barbara, also available in "Keynote Speech to the Democratic National Convention (July 12, 1976), Contemporary American Voices, Eds. James R. Andrews and David Zarefsky, New York: Longman, 1992. 279-282.

Cuomo, Mario. Keynote address to the Democratic National Convention, July 16, 1984. Public Papers of Governor Cuomo. 680-692.

Jackson, Jesse. "Keep Hope Alive: Speech to the 1988 Democratic National Convention." Boston: South End Press, 1989. 33-39. -- analysis

Richards, Ann 1988 Democratic Convention Keynote address.

convention themes -- family values:

Quayle, Dan. "Prepared Remarks by the Vice President, Commonwealth Club of California (a.k.a. the Murphy Brown speech). May 19, 1992.

Buchanan, Pat. Republican National Convention remarks, August 17, 1992. -- analysis

Fisher, Mary. "Remarks at the Republican National Convention." August 19, 1992.



Week 6: October 1: the acceptance speech

key terms: purpose and elements of acceptance address, strategies

read: PCC 216-224, UW 55-93.

Acceptance speeches by

Clinton 1996 (analysis)

Dole 1996 (analysis)

Bush 2000

Gore 2000

Nader 2000


Week 7: October 8: political advertising

key terms: argument by visual association, emotional appeals, types and functions of ads, 4 phases of ads, sex's influence on the use of attacks, monetary considerations in ad buys, range of media, strategies of ad use (i.e. spurt), identification, apposition, guilt by association and apposition, inviting false inference, rhetorical style. In particular, you might want to consider comparing Robertson et al.'s insights on sex and ads to PCC's. Given Robertson's empirical research, can we challenge PCC's conclusions?


read: PCC 139-170, 319-366; UW 94-114

Jamieson, Kathleen Hall. Dirty Politics. New York: Oxford, 1992. "Tactics of Attack," 43-63.

Robertson, Terry, et al. "Sex, Lies, and Videotape: An Analysis of Gender in Campaign Advertisements." Communication Quarterly 47 (Summer 1999): 333-341.


Week 8: October 15: the stump speech

key terms: functions of elections, leadership style, image/issue/personality, incumbency style, challenger style, hybrid style, elements of a stump speech

read: PCC 63-104, 55-62. UW 115-138

Bush at the NAACP convention (7/10/00)

Gore at the NAACP convention

Bush "A New Approach" (6/8/00)

Gore "Progress Now for the American People" (7/10/00)


Week 9: October 22: the debates

key terms: elements of a debate, debate strategy, effects of debates

read: PCC 249-292, UW 164-176

view clips on the Video link


paper intro edit due


Week 10: October 29: the inaugural and midterm

read: inaugurals by

Kennedy (January 20, 1961)

Johnson (November 27, 1963)

Nixon (January 24, 1969)

Ford (August 9, 1974)

Carter (January 22, 1977)

Reagan (January 20, 1981)

Bush (January 20, 1989)

Clinton (January 20, 1993)

Bush (January 20, 2001)


Week 11: November 5: war messages and other crisis rhetoric


war messages

Kennedy on the Cuban Missile Crisis (October 22, 1962)

Johnson on the Gulf of Tonkin (August 4, 1964)

Nixon on Vietnam (November 3, 1969)

Bush on the Persian Gulf (August 20, 1990)

Bush on Afghanistan (September 20, 2001)

crisis rhetoric

Johnson, The American Promise, a.k.a. "We Shall Overcome," (March 15, 1965)

Reagan, The Challenger Explosion (January 28, 1986)

Clinton , The Race Initiative (June 16, 1997)


Week 12: November 12: Writing the final paper.

Transcriptions due.

I cannot stress how important it is that your transcriptions be done, and that you have thought about key themes in them. If the interviews and transcriptions are not completed, then we cannot include you in the final research project.


Week 13: November 19: (no Cate -- NCA conference)

editing of short paper

There are no readings due for this week, so please use your time to work on the paper. The more complete your paper, the more productive the editing session will be. A completed draft is expected. Remember, you will be turning in your draft along with the final paper.


Week 14: November 26: the state of the union

read: UW 220-251.

Johnson, War on Poverty, (January 8, 1964)

Nixon, A New American Revolution, (January 22, 1971)

Reagan, The New Federalism, (January 26, 1982)

Clinton, State of the Union, (January 27, 1998)


Week 15: December 3: farewells


Eisenhower (January 17, 1961)

Nixon (August 8, 1974)

Carter (January 14, 1981)

Reagan (January 11, 1989)

Clinton (January 18, 2001)


Week 16: December 10: gender and politics


Mansbridge, Jane. "Feminism and Democracy." In Feminism and Politics. Ed. Anne Phillips. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998. 142-160.

Witt, Linda, et al. "Crossing the Credibility Threshold." Running as a Woman. New York: The Free Press, 1994. 99-124.

Witt, Linda, et al. "Squaring the Personal and the Political" and "What Difference Does Difference Make." Running as a Woman. New York: The Free Press, 1994. 75-98 and 153-180.


short paper due.


FINALS WEEK: 5-6:50 p.m. Tuesday, December 17: finishing the research paper

Final edits due. These will all be incorporated during the final exam period.

read: UW 252-266.


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