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Robert G. Moser, Chair BAT 2.116, Mailcode A1800, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-5121

Fall 2009

GOV 370L • Political Communication

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
39320 MWF
11:00 AM-12:00 PM
BUR 208
Jarvis, S

Course Description

Welcome to CMS 342K / GOV 370L, a course that examines the theory and practice of political communication in the United States. A democracy has always depended on open and direct communication between its citizens and those who govern them. In the United States, this has been true since Colonial times. But with the advent of mass technologies, the range, depth, and importance of communication practices have changed in revolutionary ways. Today, the White House has it own press office, World Wide Web site, and email address. Entire new specializations have developed in the world of politics—the spin experts, the investigative reporters, the media handlers, advertising's time-buyers, the lobbyists with their cell phones—all of these persons now crowd on top of one another in Washington D.C. and in Austin, Texas. In this class, we will study these phenomena, these people.

This is a "citizen's course" that will challenge you to rethink your views of politics. Whether you are Republican, Democrat, or non-partisan; liberal, conservative, or apathetic is your business rather than mine. There is no partisan or ideological line to tow in this course, and no student will ever be penalized for respectfully disagreeing with the readings or class discussion. Our primary goal in this class is to ask whether or not democracy is made better or worse, helped or hurt, by contemporary communication practices and technologies.

Grading Policy

300 points are possible in this course. For an "A" you will need 270 points, 240 for a “B”, 210 for a “C”, etc. It is possible to earn up to 1- 3 extra points by attending class regularly and by participating in extra credit opportunities.

Three exams will be given in the course. These exams will consist of identification/short-answer items and essay questions. Each of the exams will be worth 100 points. Every lecture and every reading will be examined. No make-up exams will be given in this course. If an exam is missed, the only way to recoup points is by completing the optional assignment.


There will be two sources for required reading. The Hart book is available at the UT Co-op. Hart, R. P. (1999). Seducing America. (Revised edition). ISBN: 0-761-91624-5 (paperback) Course Packet (CP), Available on E-reserves,


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