Syllabus for 36:371 Communication Theory  FALL 2007


Instructor: Steve Duck, 151-BCSB, 335-0579

Class meets: Tu/Th. 10:55-12.10, 106-BCSB

Office Hours:  Tu/Th. 12.30- 2.00 and by appointment.

Department: Communication Studies; Main Office 105-BCSB; DEO: Kristine Fitch 353-2264 

This is a three credit course and the expected standard out-of-class preparation is six hours.

This course is given by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences/Graduate College. This means that class policies on matters such as requirements, grading, and sanctions for academic dishonesty are governed by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the Graduate College. Students wishing to add or drop this course after the official deadline must receive the approval of the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and/or the Graduate College. Details of the University policy of cross enrollments may be found at:

I need to hear from anyone who has a disability which may require some modification of seating, testing or other class requirements so that appropriate arrangements may be made. Please contact me during my office hours, on email or by phone.

This course is designed to give you a working map of important theories in communication, especially those that you will not encounter in depth in courses with other faculty. It would an impossible task to teach you all the theories that exist in and about communication in the fullest depth in one semester.  Instead the course offers pointers and teaches you to consume theory, and in so doing, it surveys major theoretical issues and propositions in communication -- primarily, but not exclusively, interpersonal communication.  The course begins with consideration of the ways in which theories are constructed and have been broadly applied to human communication and then moves on to consider specific theories about particular communicative activities and enterprises.   As you read through the materials that are offered for your consideration, keep asking yourself: why is this important? What would count as evidence? How would evidence be gathered? What are the underlying assumptions about the nature of the human being? What values and implications lie behind the surface statements made here?  What is not articulated in the theory that in fact is important to explicate?  Don't despair that there is a lot to read: be satisfied with an acquisition of two things: 1) a broad atlas of kinds of theory.  [Don’t even attempt to believe that you will know all these theories by the end of this course.] 2) a general compass of questions and issues to guide you through the theoretical landscape.  The course is designed to give you the chance to acquire these things and provide a basis for later growth and development of more detail and complexity over your further studies.

Reading materials:  The course text is the SECOND EDITION (2004) of Katherine Miller’s excellent book published by McGraw Hill: “Communication Theories: Perspectives, Processes, and Contexts.  We will also be trying out the MS form of “Engaging Theories in Interpersonal Communication” (Baxter & Braithwaite, eds, SAGE Inc, in press) for much of the supplementary readings for the Thursday classes, and there will be additional readings for some weeks.  We will sort out the provision of these readings in an early class. Note this is augmented further (at the end of this syllabus) by additional suggestions, for reading if you so wish.  You are expected to have read the relevant parts of Miller for the Tuesday class and ALL the supplementary readings for the Thursday class.  My list of additional suggestions is just there to provide you with some starters for further study but the list is not exhaustive.  It is not required that you will have read it for class, though of course if you have, then you will be better informed.  You might find it useful for developing your understanding of a particular theory that appeals to you.

It is extremely unlikely that you will find all of these theories equally appealing.  You are encouraged to develop your own perspective on theory, on communication, and on the special topics that we shall cover during the course.  Use this class as an opportunity not only to become familiar with the theories that are out there but also to adopt or try out a particular approach that you might find useful in the future work that you do for your thesis.

Course Assignments

Class participation is essential and should be based on your careful reading of the materials. Come to each class with something to raise for discussion and to engage the other students as well as the instructor.  In particular, be ready to deal with the “prompter questions” offered for most weeks in the assignments list. In addition to the class participation, you will do a weekly assignment based on the readings.  This will be due most Thursdays and should be in the region of 2-3 double spaced pages (NO MORE).  These notes are intended eventually to serve as a quick study guide for your review later on, so construct them with that in mind: Summarize the main points of the reading and offer key points of critique that you find relevant (bullet lists will do for both of these).

The assessment for the course will be based on 1) the production of a critique of the reading, due most Thursdays; 2) a brief critical essay (max. 10 pages) on the general basis of decision-making between theories (due Sept. 11th); and 3) a final essay of about 20 pages offering a comparison of any two theoretical approaches to a particular topic of your choosing.  You will present a summary or outline of this essay to class in the final two weeks of the course and then have the chance to polish up, incorporating class feedback as you desire, for final submission on the last day of class.  This essay should do three things: a) First it should justify the choice of any two theories (your choice) in respect of a topic of your own choosing: choose a topic that really interests you and which you could easily become passionate about.  b) Next the essay should systematically demonstrate how each theory would conceptualize the phenomenon that you have chosen, and should show ways in which each theory would be applied to research the topic.  What features of the topic would be particularly relevant to each theory?  What sorts of assumptions and approaches are indicated in the attack on the phenomenon from that perspective?  c) Demonstrate the heuristic value of each theory for the topic you have chosen.  What might each of the two theories cast up for investigation that previous approaches have overlooked?  Be creative!  This could be the beginning of your thesis.

The course has the extra pedagogic intention of contributing to your experience and training as students preparing for thesis work and scholarly investigation -- whatever sorts of methods you prefer to adopt.  As such it sets out to give you time to develop your ideas.  You will do the bulk of your work on the final project during November so that things are not crushed into the end of term.  All this will require a fair amount of advance preparation, so plan ahead.  If you do this properly then you should be able to avoid a big multiple crunch at the end of semester where you are torn between this and other coursework. If you can work it that way, then that in itself will mean that you have learned one underlying concept of the scholar's skills: organization of time.

Policy on deadlines and due dates:   Deadlines are meaningful and I have planned my own timetable for the semester around expectations of receiving things from you when they are due.    Plan ahead.    Things will go wrong this semester from time to time and the unexpected always occurs (especially around October 16th).    Plan ahead and allow time for delays, burst pipes, broken printers, lost pets, crashed computers, and other possible events that might become unavailing excuses.    If you miss deadlines then you will get a failing grade.  I do not give Incompletes.


What is a theory and why do we use them? What are the criteria for “a good” theory? What can we do with theory? When we critique a theory per se what features of its internal structure and connection to phenomena should we attend to?  When we analyze a theory, what hidden assumptions does it make about human beings and their development (ontology), the way that people acquire and use knowledge (epistemology), and what the theory can do (praxiology)? What hidden value systems lie underneath it (axiology)?  What is the connection of the theory to the way in which people actually operate in daily life?

We will consider three types of “communication” Action; interaction; transaction, and will briefly examine the Intentionality issue, the extent to which any understanding of what counts as “Communication” depends on the assumption that the person/sender intended it to be read as communication, and whether Communication Theory applies only to those forms or to “unintended” messages (Such as those that cause embarrassment or are perceived as deceptive, or informative but not intended to be detected.)


Read Miller chapter 1 on the nature(s) and conceptual foundations of interpersonal communication (studies). Tuesday class will be a general introduction and focus on the nature of communication; Thursday class will focus more on “theory” about communication.  Classes will raise issues about communication and the nature of theory about it and its place in understanding human behavior. We’ll briefly talk about the sender-receiver model as a basic set of ideas about “interpersonal communication” that are commonly held by the general public.  Are mistakes relevant to the analysis of communication and if so how and why? Is everyday routine trivial conversation worth studying?  Consider, and remember all through the course, the definition of relevance of phenomena that gives us our domain and scope for study.


For Thursday the Supplementary Readings are: Clore, G. L. & Byrne, D. (1974) A reinforcement affect model of attraction. In Huston, T. L. (Ed) Foundations of Interpersonal Attraction (pp. 154-165 ONLY, focusing on the section “A multilevel conceptualization of theory construction and theory testing” and on Table 1 (the six levels of relationship between theory and empirical information. Don't read or worry about the rest of the article.)] Academic Press: New York. 

And Read R. Craig (1999) “Communication Theory as a field” Communication Theory (9) 119-161.

Also read now or next week Cappella, J. N. (1987) Interpersonal communication: Definitions and fundamental questions. In C. R. Berger & S. H. Chaffee (Eds) Handbook of communication science (pp. 184-238) Newbury Park: SAGE.

Come to each class with TWO “interesting questions” that were provoked by your reading.  Be prepared to share them with the class and to establish a) why they are interesting; b) why they matter.

Consider: whether the whole issue of defining “communication” is merely a logical error based on the attempt to extrapolate from different specific instances to a rarefied and unrepresentative generalization that renders all comment about it incomplete and simplified.  Could different instances of communicative activity be doing different jobs?  If so then what is the common feature that makes them all “communication”?  Do we need one sort of theory and definition for some instances and others for others?  Or are we supposed to embrace a general conceptualization that places our work on the academic field?  You might consider what it is that makes Comm. Studies different from some other disciplinary approaches to communication, like social psychology.

Note the chapter by Krauss and Fussell in the additional suggestions list if you wish to pursue this further via a social psychological model of what “communication” is – basically something explained as an off-shoot of personality.

Thursday class: Do not forget to hand in the critique of the week’s reading.



Class will not meet as such this week so you can read all the huge list of things and develop some ideas on key issues

Read: Miller Chapter 2 on what theory does; and Chapter 3 on Post-positivism

Use the class time to note down some thoughts about the different levels at which theories may be specified.  In particular give a lot of thought to the matter of making decisions about the value of different theories.  What is the point of having different theories if there is no way of deciding between their values, except loyalty or aesthetics?  By what means could we decide whether a theory is true or false -- or doesn’t that question matter at all?

Also consider: We are often told that “Iowa is big on theory”. What would that claim mean, in light of the reading, and how could it be tested?  In the reading, Miller argues for a pluralistic approach that seeks compromise and eclecticism.  Is it possible to be eclectic without ignoring fundamental and meaningful differences between approaches?  If you adopt a pluralistic approach then what exactly are you adopting, and how would we know if it is a “better” approach than any other one? 

Take your regular notes for yourself on the reading but do not prepare the normal Thursday hand-in (see below)and in particular consider the ways in which various theories could be tested.  If a theory is a way of viewing the world and if we want to know whether it is a valid or invalid way of looking at things then how are we to make decisions between different theoretical offerings?  Do not confine yourself to the dry world of academe but ask yourself how you decide whether or not your hypotheses about people, etc., are valid or not.  Or are we just unable to decide, and simply destined to enter the fog of “multiple realities” and perhaps end up down the plughole of uncertainty?

Read Montgomery, B. M. (1988). Quality Communication in Personal Relationships. In S. W. Duck (Ed.), Handbook of Personal Relationships (pp. 343-362). Chichester: Wiley. 

T. Stivers (2004) “No, no, no and other types of multiple sayings in social interaction, Human Communication Research (30) 260-293.

Also read Chaffee, S. & Berger C., R. What communication scientists do. In C. R. Berger & S. H. Chaffee (Eds) Handbook of communication science (pp. 99-122) Newbury Park: SAGE

This is a week for you to start taking your vantage point on theory and make sure that your reading is fully up to date.  There will be no formal class meetings and so no Thursday notes on readings are due this week.  Instead, prepare a ten page (MAX) essay on the general basis for comparing theories (See course assignments). This will be due for submission at the class on Tuesday Sept. 11th   This should be based on the issues that have come up in the readings to this point and are general matters about the bases of theories in communication, not a specific comparison of particular theories.



Read Miller Chapter 4 on Interpretive and Chapter 5 on Critical approaches 

Come to class with your essay from last week. Develop some thoughts on the dilemma of how we decide what is “data” for our studies of communication.  Where do we draw out the lines?  Should we be interested in what people say, what they overlook, what they mean, or what they take for granted?  If all three, then in what proportions?  In what ways could agents of reform ever be “neutral” and does it matter if they are not?  What implications does it have for the study and teaching of communication if values are built into our views of the subject (for example in teaching about nonverbal communication “skills” or “communication competence”)?  Can we ever adopt a critical perspective that does not have its own biases just like the ones that critical theories usually criticize? 

Also consider  how we define “quality” in communication or in relationships and how we decide on notions of “competence” in communication, relative to the Montgomery reading from last week. 


For Thursday Read Mumby, D. K. (1997) Modernism, postmodernism and communication studies: A rereading of an ongoing debate.  Communication Theory, 7, 1-28. 

Conquergood, D.  (1991) Rethinking ethnography: towards a critical cultural politics Communication Monographs (58) 179-194. 

Wood [Critical feminist theories] Ch 24 in B&B;

Koenig Kellas [Narrative theories] Ch 18 in B&B;

Secklin, P. L. (2001). Multiple fractures in time: Reflections on a car crash. Journal of Loss and Trauma, 6(4), 323-333.

Also read A. P. Bochner, “Perspectives on Inquiry III.: The Moral of Stories,” in M. Knapp and J. Daley (Eds.) The Handbook Of Interpersonal Communication (3rd Edition), 2002, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 73-101.


Come to class with some thoughts on each of the three perspectives we have focused on so far: (Post)positivism, interpretivism, critical.  Don’t forget your Thursday notes.



For Tuesday Read Miller Chapter 6 on theories of Symbolic organization and Andersen, P. A. (1993). Cognitive schemata in personal relationships. In S. W. Duck (Ed.), Individuals in relationships [Understanding relationship processes 1] (pp. 1-29). Newbury Park: SAGE.

Come to class with some thoughts about the ways in which any symbolic activities represent the inner workings of the mind and the extent to which these are the province of “communication studies” at all.  What psychological assumptions do we need to make in any communication theory in order to understand or theorize about communication itself?  Or do we not need such assumptions at all?  How far does any work on communication presuppose a particular sort of psychological structure or model of cognition?  How important a concept for CS is the notion of intentionality?

Also consider how much of symbolic organization is “argument” rather than narrative report.  Is our representation of our inner selves itself a persuasive activity in daily life; for example is thought dialogical?


For Thursday read these supplementary readings: Manusov & Spitzberg [Attribution Theory] Ch 3 in B&B;  Honeycutt [Imagined interaction theory] Ch 6 in B&B. 

Come to class with your regular notes on the readings and some thoughts about the ways in which the contrasted approaches this week draw us towards a mechanistic or a literalist view of “truth” in communication. 

Also consider whether these approaches can explain the everyday chances of conversations in life or are applicable only to formal statements and judgments or else to reports of events connected post hoc.

Note: Be careful with the word “Schema”: it is singular. Acceptable plurals are “Schemata” and “Schemas”.  The word “Schema” is a singular, ALWAYS.

Note at some point in life you should read Billig, M. (1987). Arguing and Thinking:  A rhetorical Approach to Social Psychology. Cambridge, UK, Cambridge University Press. And/or Billig, M. (1991). Ideology and opinions: Studies in rhetorical psychology. Newbury Park, Sage.



For Tuesday Read Miller Chapter 7 on message production

Come to class with some thoughts about the types of message studied in this kind of research and the extent to which we should regard the processes of “message production” to be general ones applicable to any situation or more likely to explain only deliberate, thoughtful, and intentional speech.  What contextual assumptions do such theories make about the nature of human experience, the nature of social life as “rational”, and the conduct of everyday life?  Identify some types of speech that seem to you NOT to fit the assumptions of this approach and come prepared to defend your choices, having first thought about other ways in which the week’s theories may deal with mistakes, forgetfulness, errors, and the White House Press Secretary.

Also consider these issues in reference to the issues we considered a couple of weeks back concerning the goals and raison d’ętre of communication studies.


For Thursday read these supplementary readings:, Greene [Action Assembly Theory] Ch 2 in B&B,

Burleson & Rack [Constructivism,] Chapter 4 in B&B;

Dillard [Goals, Plans, Action Theory] Ch 5 in B&B.

Berger [Planning theory] Ch 7 in B&B.  


Come to class with your regular Thursday notes on the readings. Do these approaches in any way (implicit or explicit) have to face the problem of the difficulties with sender-receiver models?  What do they assume about the roles of individuals in communication, as opposed to “sharedness”/sociality?  Are they models of communication as action, interaction or transaction? Does the use of the term “Message” imply an epistemological vantage point?

Note also the following readings in the Additional suggestions for readings: Special issue of  Communication Theory (2000) vol. 10 on messages; McCroskey (1984); Burleson & Caplan (1997); O’Keefe (1997).



For Tuesday Read Miller Chapter 8 on theories of message processing

Come to class with some thoughts about the ways in which message processing connects with the other things that we have read so far (Implicit values, criticism of society/power) and how this element of Interpersonal Communication connects to Rhetorical Studies. Is the model of the human being that is implicit in the research on this topic necessarily, but dangerously, close to a non-critical sender-receiver approach?  How can the focus of such theories be integrated with the more social aspects of life -- or are there different senses in which “social” is used in different theories, separating out the interpersonal (strictly from one person/black box to another), from the gregarious, convivial, communal and societal meanings of the term in other uses (e.g., as in social constructionism)?

Also consider that for much of the field and for many other major Departments, this week’s and last week’s topics ARE “interpersonal communication”. Many schools regard the topics of message production and reception, compliance gaining, communication apprehension, message design and action assembly as the central issues in communication.  At conventions and in future faculty positions you will come across people with whom you need to be able meaningfully to discuss these topics.  [Just a cheery thought].


For Thursday read these supplementary readings:

What are we missing here?  Consider the relational context in which most communication occurs and note the importance of sequences of interaction, the fact that communication occurs in a context of chaining, as Babrow calls it. Note in reading Babrow that his theory has a more social underflow than Miller credits.

Babrow, A. S. (1995). Communication and problematic integration: Milan Kundera's "Lost letters" in The Book of Laughter and Forgetting. Communication Monographs, 62, 283-300. 

Babrow, A. S. (2001). "Uncertainty, value, communication and Problematic Integration." Journal of Communication(September): 553-573. 

Duck, S. W. (2002). "Hypertext in the key of G:  Three types of "history" as influences on conversational structure and flow." Communication Theory (12, 1): 41-62. 

Afifi & Matsunaga [Uncertainty management theories] Ch 9 in B&B.


Come to class with your regular Thursday notes on the readings.

Note the book by Stiff in the Additional Suggestions for Reading.



By now you will be beginning to feel Extreme Graduate Stress and this week focuses on giving you a chance to catch up while also handling a hot topic: CMC.  Although the first theoretical work on this was usually dystopic and fearful of the malign uses of the Internet, the still-so-called “new” technology gizmos, and even small technology like cell phones, always recall that almost all of the authors who write about this stuff are writing from the point of view of persons familiar with a world before this technological revolution began and became widely accepted.   As these writers have aged, they have still tended to cling to the negative view of technology that they started out with, whereas the subjects who are in their studies have never known a world without such things and are broadly more savvy about their uses and abuses.  Do theories of CMC usage accurately reflect the axiology of users or only of theorists (where the two are different)?  How well have theorists captured the epistemologies of users? What are the social uses of such technology that should interest interpersonal scholars theoretically?


Read Walther [Social Information Processing Theory] Ch 29 in B&B.

Duck(2007) Human Relationships, Fourth Edition, SAGE: London, Chapter 6;

scour journals for further recent readings on this.

Come to class with some thoughts about connections of interpersonal theory to media approaches to communication.  Consider what CMC and small technology does to the boundaries of social life and what that means for our theories.



For Tuesday Read Miller Chapter 10 on communication in developing relationships and Weigel, D., & Murray, C. (2000). The paradox of stability and change in relationships: What does chaos theory offer for the study of romantic relationships? Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 17(3), 425-449.

Come to class with some thoughts about whether communication is the trigger that develops relationships.  Do people simply employ communication in a setting that has been pre-figured for them (by society, by common acquaintances, by social settings such as discos, bars, churches, schools...) or is communication really the lifeblood of relating?  What would an exclusive attention to communication leave out of our consideration of human social interaction?  What is the role of memory and past experience in the unfolding of communication in relationships?

Also consider whether all communication that does develop relationships is intended to develop relationships or whether perhaps relationships simply develop anyway and we just talk about that.  To what extent is relational communication rhetorical? How far is it causal and how far simply a medium?


For Thursday read these supplementary readings:

Mongeau & Miller-Henningsen [Relationship Stage Theories] Ch 27 in B&B;

Rollie, S. S., & Duck, S. W. (2006). Stage theories of marital breakdown. In J. H. Harvey & M. A. Fine (Eds.), Handbook of Divorce and Dissolution of Romantic Relationships (pp. 176-193). Mahwah, NJ.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Dindia, K. (2000). Self-disclosure, Identity, and Relationship Development:  A Dialectical Perspective. In K. Dindia & S. W. Duck (Eds), Communication and Personal Relationships (pp. 147-162). Chichester, UK: Wiley.

Come to class with your regular notes on the readings and consider how much personal baggage and social cognition comes with each person in to an encounter. 

Note Duck 1994 chapter 2 in the Suggestions list if you wish to pursue this further.



For Tuesday Read Miller Chapter 11 on theories in developed relationships and Petronio & Durham [Communication Privacy Management Theory] Ch 23 in B&B.

Come to class with some thoughts about the range of behaviors and communicative possibilities included in most relationships.  Can we classify “relational communication” or is there too much of a range for us to do that?  There is still a whole 16 week course on Relational Communication on the books, so we are merely scratching the scratch on the blemish on the surface here.  Dialectical Theory is also an important theory about relationships that likewise has its own course, so we will glide over it from economical necessity.

Also consider whether there is any difference between “interpersonal communication” and relational communication.  At CSCA 2000, there was a panel devoted to the question of whether there is such a difference.  Is there? Should there have been such a panel or doesn’t it matter for theory whether there is such a difference or not?


For Thursday read these supplementary readings:

Stafford [Social Exchange Theories] Ch 28 in B&B;

Carl, W. J., & Duck, S. W. (2004). How to do things with relationships. In P. Kalbfleisch (Ed.), Communication Yearbook 28 (Vol. 28, pp. 1-35). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE. 


Come to class with your regular notes on the readings.  Focus on the extents and the manners in which relationships are themselves persuasive tools.

Note: the Baxter & Montgomery (1996) book in the Additional Suggestions for Reading and be aware that there are full courses on Dialectics offered in the Department.   Also some of you might be drawn to Politeness Theory.  See the reference to Brown & Levinson at the end of this syllabus.



For Tuesday Read Miller Chapter 12 on theories of organizational communication and Chapter 13 on group communication

Come to class with some thoughts on the ways in which communication in organizations is the same as or different from communication in dyads or small groups.  Is size of audience the only difference?  What other factors play into communication in organizations?

Also consider when an individual is in an organization, what sorts of changes occur to that person as situated in an organization that do not characterize communication at the individual/dyadic level?  Is a culture an organization?

What are the similarities and differences between “a small group” and “a network” within which people conduct their daily lives.  The zero history groups in much research here are not only zero history but zero future; in the living networks with which we communicate the most, we have the expectation, as well as the experience, of other communications than the present one. What difference does that make if any? And why?

Note the brilliant Bergmann book on gossip in the Additional Suggestions for Reading, if you want to follow up the meanings of communication in real life small groups with influence in individuals lives.


For Thursday read these supplementary readings:

Bastien, D., McPhee, R., & Bolton, K. (1995). A study and extended theory of the structuration of climate. Communication Monographs, 62, 87-109.

Taylor, J. R. (1995). Shifting from a heteronomous to an autonomous worldview of organizational communication: Communication theory on the cusp. Communication Theory, 5, 1-35. 

G. T. Fairhurst & L. Putnam (2004) Organization as discursive constructions.  Communication Theory, 14 (1) 5-26.

Read also  VanderVoort, L. A. (2002). "Functional and causal explanations in group communication research." Communication Theory 12(4): 469-486.

Come to class with some impressive observations.

Also consider:  What is a “function”?  Look up “narcolepsy” on Google.



Read Miller Chapter 9 on theories of discourse and interaction

Come to class with some thoughts about some things we do with words.  Does this kind of theory commit us to may particular epistemology?  Do these theories take “communication” to be the same kind of animal as do some of the other theories that are based on cognitive frameworks, plans and so forth?


For Thursday read these supplementary readings:

Tracy [Action-Implicative Discourse Analysis Theory] Ch 11 in B&B; 

Giles [Communication Accommodation Theory] Ch 12 in B&B;

Mandelbaum [Conversation Analysis Theory] Ch 13 in B&B

Come to class with your regular notes on the readings. Consider the role of playfulness in interaction. 

Also in preparation for next week, consider the extent to which communication is really all nice and polite.  Are our theories mostly focused on the sorts of idealistic rarefied communication that denies the insulting, gossipy, teasing, racist, unpleasant or cruel parts of human communication. To what extent do theories of communication tend to assume that life is all roses and satisfaction?



Read Metts & Cupach [Face theory] Ch 15 in B&B;

If we consider the particulars of everyday experience, then we must note that predicaments and embarrassment are not unknown experiences there.  Lots of what we do is guided by  a desire to appear worthy and acceptable.  Facework is done in interactions and if politeness is significant, then how is it that friends are often extremely informal, not to say rude, in interactions with one another and can get away with teasing and insult (or doing the dozens)?  How can these experiences be made to fit the general theories you have read? Consider the matter of deception and, for example, enmity and rivalry and the extent to which any of the preceding work in the course has adequately dealt with those familiar unhappy communicative experiences.

Duck, S. W. (1994). Stratagems, spoils and a serpent's tooth: On the delights and dilemmas of personal relationships. In W. R. Cupach & B. H. Spitzberg (Eds) The dark side of interpersonal communication. (pp. 3-24). Hillsdale, NJ, LEA. 

Spitzberg, B. H. (1993). The dialectics of (in)competence. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 10, 137-158.



Read Miller  chapter 16 on theories of intercultural contexts.

Read also Fitch, K. L. (2003) Cultural persuadables.  Communication Theory 13 (1) 100-123.






In the classes from here on in, each of you will present to the rest of the class an outline of your final paper comparing two theories and their value in dealing with a particular issue that interests you. This is a chance for you to get feedback on your ideas so that you can then polish things for the final paper that you will submit to me as the final assessment for the course.  We will work on the timings for these presentations in one of the early classes.




ADDITIONAL SUGGESTIONS for reading, at will (I have copies of most of this stuff and will gladly lend it):

Afifi, W. A.  & J. L. Weiner (2004) Toward a theory of Motivated Information Management.  Communication Theory 14 (2) 167-190. 

Altman, I., & Taylor, D. (1973). Social Penetration: The development of interpersonal relationships. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.

Baxter, L. A., & Montgomery, B. M. (1996). Relating: Dialogs and dialectics. New York: Guilford Press.

Bergmann, J. R. (1993). Discreet indiscretions: The social organization of gossip. New York: Aldine de Gruyter.

Brown, P. & S. C. Levinson (1987). Some universals in language usage: Politeness phenomena. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Brown, P., & Levinson, S. C. (1978). Universals in language usage: Politeness phenomena. In E. E. Goody (Ed.), Questions and politeness (pp. 56-289). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Burleson, B. R., & Caplan, S. E. (1997). Cognitive complexity. In J. C. McCroskey, J. A. Daly, & M. M. Martin (Eds.), Communication and personality: Trait perspectives (pp. 230-286). Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press.

Cupach, W. R., & Metts, S. (1994). Facework. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Duck, S. W. (1994). Meaningful Relationships: Talking, Sense, and Relating. Thousand Oaks: SAGE.

Duck, S. W. and L. A. VanderVoort (2001). Scarlet letters and whited sepulchres: the social marking of relationships as "inappropriate". Inappropriate relationships: The Unconventional, the Disapproved, and the Forbidden. R. Goodwin and D. Cramer. Mahwah, New Jersey., Erlbaum: 3-24.

Greene, J. O. (2000). Evanescent mentation: An ameliorative conceptual foundation for research and theory on message production. Communication Theory, 10, 139-155.

Greene, J. O. (1997) A second generation action  assembly theory. In J. O. Greene (Ed) Message production: Advances in communication theory (pp. 151-170) Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum;

Hewes, D. E., & Planalp, S. (1987). The Individual's Place in Communication Science. In C. R. Berger & S. H. Chaffee (Eds.), Handbook of Communication Research (pp. 146-183). Newbury Park: SAGE.

Krauss, R. M., & Fussell, S. R. (1996). Social psychological models of interpersonal communication. In E. T. Higgins & A. Kruglanski (Eds.), Social Psychology: Handbook of basic principles. (pp. 655-701). New York: Guilford.

Lannamann, J. W. (1991). Interpersonal communication research as ideological practice. Communication Theory, 1, 179-203.

McGuire, W. J. (2001) Input and output variables currently promising for constructing persuasive communications.  In R. E. Rice & C. K. Atkin (eds) Public Communication Campaigns, 3rd Ed SAGE Publications: Thousand Oaks, 22-48.

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Other professional matters

The University Classroom Manual now requires that all courses include the following guidance that is given here partly to inform you of your rights and duties on this course and also to provide discussion points for the class and guidance for your own classes in the future, both those you may run and those you may take.

  • College Governing the Policies of the Course
    All policies and procedures of this course are governed by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and, where relevant by the policies and procedures of the Graduate College.
  • Plagiarism and Academic Fraud
    All forms of
    plagiarism and any other activities that result in a student presenting work that is not his or her own are academic fraud. Academic fraud is reported to the departmental DEO and then to the Associate Dean for Academic Programs and Services. See for the complete CLAS policy.
  • Making a suggestion or a complaint: Students have the right to make suggestions or complaints and should visit with the instructor and next with the departmental DEO. All complaints must be made as soon as possible. For more information, visit
  • Accommodations for disabilities: The Office of Student Disability Services (319 335-1462) is responsible for assessing a student's eligibility for reasonable accommodations based on information provided by the student's health care provider. Student Disability Services:
  • Understanding Sexual Harassment Sexual harassment is reprehensible and will not be tolerated by the University. It subverts the mission of the University and threatens the well-being of students, faculty, and staff. Visit this site ( for definitions, assistance, and the full University policy.