CMS 348K

Visual Media and Interaction

While communication studies is a discipline mainly concerned with verbal communication, this course is about the visual components of human interaction. It covers both what is traditionally called “nonverbal” communication—communication that we produce with our eyes, faces, hands, and so on—and communication by visual artifacts, including pictures, computer screens, and everyday objects. The point of the class is to understand how these various visual media function, what impact they may have on society and the individual mind, and to increase your competence as a visual communicator and future communication professional.


Spring 2015



CMS 355K

Intercultural Communication

This course is designed to encourage you to develop your cultural competence through a combination of strategies: acquiring knowledge about cultures and their influences on human thought, action, and communication; thinking through obstacles to intercultural understanding and ways to overcome them; engaging in challenging exercises in which you look at yourself through the eyes of strangers; and developing ethical principles for living and communicating in a “globalized” world.

Fall 2014


CMS 359

Language, Culture and Communication in the Hip-Hop Nation

The “Hip-Hop-Nation” is a global community that is grounded in shared practices of language use, some of which have African and African-American roots. Today, while rappers create and perform in many different languages, hip-hop itself has become a universal idiom, the shared “language” of the global ‘Hip-Hop Nation’. What this language consists of, how people communicate in it, how it evolves, and how it makes global community possible are some of the themes that we explore in this course.

Summer 2014

CMS 386P

Conversation Analysis

This course provides the foundations of an interaction-based understanding of language. You read important texts that reflect the evolution of the conversation-analytic paradigm of interaction and language study and thereby learn about the core organizations that conversation analysts have investigated: turn-taking; repair; turn-construction/action-design; recipient-design; and others. We will study, partly in data of our own, how these organizations show up and operate in everyday interactions. This work will be embedded in discussions of the theories informing conversation analysis and of how it contrasts with other approaches to the study of interpersonal communication. At the end of the semester we will take a brief overview of current research that has expanded conversation analysis into a framework for analyzing multimodal communication.
Fall 2014, Fall 2016

CMS 386P

The Body in Communication

This course introduces graduate students to the practices and state of the art of micro-analytic research on embodied action and communication in social interaction and work. Interaction is studied in its entire multimodal complexity (and open to student projects on any aspect of embodied communication in natural settings), but is to some extent focused on gesture, the most complex and versatile mode of embodied sense-making apart from language. In addition to a strong empirical component—and emphasis on research practices—the course also has a strong theory/history of ideas component, because gesture has repeatedly served as a caleidoscopic mirror in which to reflect one’s ideas about the origin and nature of humanity, symbolism, and communication.

Sample literature:
C. Goodwin, Action and embodiment”, Journal of Pragmatics, 2000.
A. Kendon, Gesture. Visible Action as Utterance. Cambridge 2004
J. Streeck, Gesturecraft. The Manu-facture of Meaning. Amsterdam 2009
and chapters from
J. Streeck, C.Goodwin & C.D. LeBaron. Embodied Interaction. Language and the Material World. Cambridge 2011.
Handbook Body – Language – Communication. An International Handbook on Multimodality in Human Interaction. 2 vols. Berlin 2013

Spring 2015, Spring 2017


CMS 383L

Intercultural Communication

The course has three objectives:

• to situate the research and practice field intercultural communication within a comprehensive substantive and theoretical framework: what are the issues, now, and how should we conceptualize them (e.g. 'what does culture mean today'? 'is intercultural communication structurally different from intracultural communication?);

• to provide a selective and critical overview of current approaches to intercultural communication in disciplines such as communication studies, sociology, sociolinguistics, conversation analysis, and anthropology, and an assessment of their advantages and disadvantages for various research programs;

• to introduce participants to research on intercultural interaction in a micro-analytic vein.

Fall 2015, Fall 2017



CMS 386P

Language, Mind, and Culture

This course is designed for students with a profound, interdisciplinary interest in language. Human languages, minds, and cultures are envisioned as ever-developing and changing living systems, and that their development takes place at different time-scales in moments of lived human interaction. Languages are repertoires of symbolic resources and practices by which human groups and individuals makes sense of the world that they inhabit and in which they cooperate, compete, and organize themselves. Particular attention is given to ubiquitous strategies of relying on bodily action and experience to make sense of abstract phenomena (metaphor). The course introduces students to current research and theory about the origins of human sociality and music, the formation of grammar, conceptualization, poetics, and embodiment. Disciplines from which literature is taken include anthropology, cognitive science, cognitive linguistics, language typology, philosophy, and social interaction. Students present research areas in class and in papers.

Spring 2016, Spring 2018