T. & Th. 8:50-10:20 a.m.
Professor Richter
Office: 119 Pleasants Hall, 362-6358
Office Hrs: W. 1:30-3:00 p.m.; Th. 10:30 a.m. -noon and by appointment

Course Description & Objectives

Required Texts & Other Readings

Electronic Resources




Student Rights & Responsibilities

Electronic Forum


Course Description
In this course we are concerned with the relationship between communication and democracy. Course activities include reading, writing, discussion and projects. Through these we will focus on the ideals and realities of public participation processes in Western culture from ancient times to the present, with an emphasis on examining the ways that modern media practices and new technologies enhance or undermine democratic communication.

Course Objectives
After completing this course, you will have an in-depth knowledge of, and be able to discuss intelligently: 1) the historical contexts in which the modern sense of political rights, including rights of participation/expression like those expressed in the First Amendment in the U.S., emerged; 2) the distinct types of rights which emerged, and the tensions possible between participatory/expressive and other types of rights; 3) the ways in which these tensions revolve around distinctions between public and private; 4) the particular problems and potentials posed for democratic communication by modern communication media practices and technologies.

Required Texts

Calhoun, C., ed. 1993. Habermas and the public sphere. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Ewen, S., 1996. PR! A Social History of Spin. NY: Basic Books/Harper Collins.

Other Required Reading
Selected Chaps.: Ober J. & Hedrick C. W. eds. (1993). The Birth of Democracy: An Exhibiton Celebrating the 2500th Anniversary of Democracy at the National Archives, Washington D.C. Athens: American School of Classical Studies, (RESERVE)
Habermas, J. "The public sphere" (HANDOUT)
Thornton, Alinta, Does internet create democracy? Chapter 7, "Conclusion"

You are also required to subscribe to & regularly read The New York Times.

Appropriate Book Report Books

Electronic Resources(note: links may be added to and removed from this list during the term. Report any dead links to the instructor)
Scholarly Communication Links
Journal of Computer Mediated Communication
Media History Project

Democracy/Free Speech Issue Links
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
Center for Democracy & Technology
Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility (CPSR)
Does internet create democracy?
Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC)
First Amendment Cyber-Tribune (FACT)
Freedom Forum
Free Speech Resources
National Endowment for Democracy

Rights & Responsibilities
Absence: You are permitted two absences during the term. If you exceed this limit for any reason I will lower your grade. Choose your times for absence wisely.

Lateness: Showing up for class late on a regular basis will result in grade reduction.

Assignment Policies: Assignments handed in late will be reduced in grade. Failure to hand in any individual assignment will result in a grade of failure for the entire course.

Reading & Discussion: Assigned readings must be completed prior to class.

Honor Code: You are expected to abide by the honor code as laid out in the student handbook. Pay particular attention to the definition of plagiarism.

Assignments will be discussed in more detail in class

Two take-home exams:

(midterm 15%; final 20%)


Book Report



Term Paper

(Rough Draft 5%; Final Draft 15%)



(Includes weekly journal)




Exams: The midterm & final are take-home and open book. You will answer essay questions designed to test your insight into class readings and discussions. Final is comprehensive.

Book Report: You will write a summary & critique of a relevant book, and make a brief presentation to the class.

Term Paper: (8-10 pages) You will draw on class readings and discussion, your book report, additional readings and your class project to write the term paper on an issue or issues of democratic communication.

Projects: You will observe and participate in political communication in a variety of settings, and keep abreast of relevant issues as reported in the news media. You will keep a journal reflecting on your observations and experiences. We will discuss on-going projects during the term, and you will give a presentation on experiences to the class.

Participation: Informed participation in discussion is expected. Be prepared to discuss/turn in reading questions each week. Accessed the reading question for each week by clicking the highlighted reading assignments in the schedule. See policies on absence, as well.

The grading scale for each assignment and for the final grade is based on a total of 100 points, as follows:

90-100 %




















44 or lower


: Feb. 1
Course Introduction
Assign political participation projects & journals

WEEK TWO: Feb. 6 & 8
Ancient Democracy and Communication: Concepts of the Public and the Private
READ: Ober, J. "Introductory Remarks;" Hedrick "Writing & the Athenian Democracy" (RESERVE)

WEEK THREE: Feb.13 & 15
Modern Democracy: History & Ideals of the Bourgeois Public Sphere
READ: Habermas, "The Public Sphere" (photocopy);

WEEK FOUR: Feb. 20 & 22
Modern Democracy: Ideals vs. Realities of the Bourgeois Public Sphere
READ: Calhoun: vii-x; 1-48; Roberts "Athenian Democracy Denounced" (RESERVE)

WEEK FIVE: Feb. 27 & Mar. 1
Critiques of the concept of a Bourgeois Public Sphere
READ: Calhoun pp. 109-163 (chaps. By Fraser & Schudson)

WEEK SIX: Mar. 6 & 8
Discussion: Theory & Practice of Public Participation
READ: Thornton, Does internet create democracy? Chapter 7, "Conclusion" (; **Thornton reading questions here**

WEEK SIX: Mar. 13 & 15
Book Reports

 SPRING BREAK: Mar. 19-23

WEEK SEVEN: Mar. 27 & 29
Pubic Participation vs. Public Relations
READ:Ewen pp. 3-59
Exam #1 due March 30 in my mailbox by 4:30 p.m.

WEEK EIGHT: Apr. 3 & 5
READ: Ewen pp. 60-127
Term Paper Topic & Preliminary Term Paper Bib due: Apr. 6 in my mailbox by 5:00 pm

WEEK NINE: Apr. 10 & 12
READ: Ewen pp. 131-212

WEEK TEN: April 17 & 19
READ: Ewen pp. 215-287
First draft of term paper due Apr. 19

WEEK ELEVEN: April 24 & 26
READ: Ewen pp. 288-336

WEEK TWELVE: May 1 & 3
READ:Ewen pp. 339-414

Journal due
Final paper due

FINAL EXAM DUE in my mailbox by 5:00 p.m. Friday May 11