CMN 308

Urban Communication

Winter 2008


Dr. Daniel Makagon                                                              

Office: SAC 596

Office Hours: Thursday 3:00-4:00 and by appointment                     

Phone: (773) 325-7376


home page:                    


Course Objectives


The rise of the metropolis has been one of the most important and engaging stories in the twentieth century and into the new millennium. Great hopes and fears are mapped onto the city. These hopes and fears are reflected in cinematic, photographic, and televisual images of the city; songs about urban life; talk about the metropolis; and cultural practices that take shape in urban neighborhoods. The city is ultimately understood via a complex mix of everyday cultural experiences, intercultural interactions, and engagement with symbols (verbal and mediated). We will pay special attention to relationships between the material (land, labor, and capital) and symbolic features of city life in an effort to more fully understand the city as a site of communication. Further, we will focus on the construction of public spaces that facilitate a more active and engaged public life.


Required Texts


Daniel Makagon, Where the Ball Drops: Days and Nights in Times Square


All other course readings are available on-line. Download and print the files from: 


Course Assignments


Class Participation                                             10%                  ____(pts.) X .10 = ______


Mid-term Paper (4-6 pages)                              30%                   ____(pts.) X .30 = ______


Quizzes                                                               30%                ____(pts.) X .30 = ______


Group Project/Service Final                               30%                   ____(pts.) X .30 = ______



                                                                                                                              Final Grade= ____________



You are required to complete the reading assignments before you attend class. This will lead to more fruitful discussion.


Mid-term Paper


This assignment asks you to write an analysis of some key issues raised in the first half of this class (likely 2-3 issues given the paper length). The objective of this paper is to assess the ways in which communication allows us to more fully understand contemporary urban life. In general, you should develop a thesis that identifies important issues pertaining to urban life, as raised in course materials. The body of your paper should (A) describe the issues, (B) flesh out the reasons why those issues are important, and (C) discuss how viewing those issues through a communication lens helps us understand the issues better. This paper is due February 12th.


All papers must be typed, paginated, double-spaced throughout the entire essay, and use a consistent style (e.g., Chicago, MLA, or APA). Use one-inch margins and 12-point font. Do not send me electronic copies of your work. See the syllabus addendum (available in the folder that contains pdfs for this class) for a description of my grading policies and expectations as well as further details on written assignments.


Contact or visit the Writing Center for assistance with your writing: Lincoln Park at 802 W. Belden, 150 McGaw Hall, 773-325-4272. The Loop at 25 E. Jackson, 1620 Lewis Center, 312-362-6726.



There are two options for the Course Final.

Group Presentation


You and your group will be responsible for one group project and presentation at the end of the quarter. This project will focus on the design of public space. These projects will be presented in class. (A description of the assignment details and rationale is available in the folder that contains pdfs for this class.)


Service Learning Final


You can volunteer a minimum of 10 hours with a Steans Center selected service organization. This organization will be actively involved with community life in ways that reflect the kinds of issues we will address in this course. You would then write a 4-6 page final paper that assesses your service work in terms of course content. (A description of the assignment details and rationale is available in the folder that contains pdfs for this class.)


Pop Quizzes


Quizzes will mix short answer and multiple choice to allow me to gauge how well you understand the arguments made in the readings. Unlike your papers and class discussion, where I am interested in your opinions about the issues and the strength of the writerŐs argument(s), the quizzes are designed for you to state the authorŐs argument only. In other words, I am not striving to understand what you think about the issues; rather, I am interested in how well you understand the construction of the authorŐs argument. If we do not understand what s/heŐs saying then our critique of her/his work will not be properly grounded. Possible points for each quiz question will be listed after the question (usually 10 or 20 points per question and usually 1-3 questions per quiz for short answer quizzes). Answers will be graded based on your ability to clearly summarize the authorŐs argument(s) and use examples from the reading to support your answer(s).


Course Policies


Promptness is expected as a general rule. If you are consistently late to class your grade will be negatively affected.


Attendance and Active Participation are expected and required. Participation grades are factored by considering how often you participate in class discussion and how that discussion advances our overall learning (i.e., I will consider how your questions help lead us to a greater understanding of difficult passages, how your contributions further discussion rather than hinder discussion, how your comments foster lively debate, how your participation grows from an engagement with the reading and college experience rather than functioning to advance an autobiographical tale only). If you miss very few classes and your participation level is excellent, you can expect an "A" for this portion of your grade. If you miss very few classes and your participation level is above average (i.e., you participate during most class sessions rather than every class session), you can expect a "B" for this portion of your grade. If you miss very few classes and your participation level is average (i.e., you contribute sometimes or your contributions donŐt elevate our thinking enough), you can expect a "C" for this portion of your grade. If you miss the most possible classes you can miss without failing the class and your participation level is average, you can expect a "D" for this portion of your grade.


You are allowed one (1) unexcused absence in this class and three (3) absences total if two or more of those absences are excused. If you miss more than three class sessions, which means you will have missed 20% of the term, then you will receive an "FŐ for the class (even if the absences are excused). Missing this many class sessions undermines the integrity of the classroom experience. If you miss this much class because of illness or a family emergency, you should meet with the Dean of Students to discuss withdrawal options.


All assignments are due on assigned days. There will be NO MAKE UPS. Documented illnesses or documented emergencies are the only exception to this policy. Changes in work schedules, personal celebrations (e.g., birthdays), or vacations are NOT considered to be legitimate reasons for missing assignment deadlines or class meetings. If you miss a quiz and have documentation for your absence then you will take the quiz on the next date you attend class. Similarly, if you have an excused absence for a class session when you would turn in a paper then you can give me the paper on the next date you attend class. (Note: If you will be missing a class because of a religious holiday, let me know in writing at least two weeks before the holiday so we can make arrangements to make up missed work.)


If you have a cellular phone or pager, turn it off or set it to vibrate. Plagiarism will be discussed below but for now you should note that all cell phones must be put away during quizzes and you should not be sending or reading text messages during class sessions.




I have often found that plagiarism becomes tempting if students are feeling pressured. Remember, when in doubt quote. If you are quoting somebody directly then you need to list the information within quotation marks and cite a page number. If you are paraphrasing then you need to cite the person and a page number. Never copy and paste entire documents into your paper and do not quote others to the point where your ideas become indistinguishable from your source's ideas. There is no reason to plagiarize given the resources available to you (e.g., opportunities to meet with me; coaches in the writing center; my handout on writing for the class; and DePaulŐs policy on academic integrity, which can be found at If you do plagiarize, you will automatically receive a grade of "F" in this class. Moreover, the Academic Affairs office will be contacted.


Grade Scale


93-100 A, 90-92 A-, 88-89 B+, 83-87 B, 80-82  B-, 78-79  C+, 73-77 C, 70-72  C-, 60-69 D,

0-59 F