CMNS 334

Urban Communication

Winter 2011


Dr. Daniel Makagon                                                              

Office: 14 E Jackson, 1828

Office Hours: Tuesday 2:00-3:00 and by appointment                     

Phone: (312) 362-7979


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. A hard copy of this paper is due February 8th in class.


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 except when listed as an option. 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 12 hours with a pre-approved 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 feature short answer questions that will 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 writer's argument(s), the quizzes are designed for you to state the author's 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 author's argument. If we do not understand what s/he's 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). Answers will be graded based on your ability to clearly summarize the author's argument(s) and use examples from the reading to support your answer(s). There will also be 1-2 homework assignments that will be graded as quizzes.


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 your contributions advance our overall learning (i.e., I will consider how your questions help us understand difficult reading 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 urban experience rather than functioning to advance an autobiographical tale only). In short, I assess participation based on quantity and quality.


You are allowed one (1) unexcused absence in this class and three (3) absences total if at least two or those absences are excused. If you miss more than three class sessions with at least two of those absences being excused, or if you have more than one unexcused absence, then you will receive an "F" for the class. Missing this many class sessions undermines the integrity of the classroom experience. Note that arriving more than 10 minutes late to class or leaving early will constitute an absence. If you exceed the quantity of allowed absences because of illness or a family emergency, you should meet with the Dean of Students office to discuss withdrawal options.


All assignments are due on assigned days. There will be NO MAKE UPS for an unexcused absence. 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. Documented illnesses or documented emergencies are considered excused absences. 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 submit the paper on the next date you attend class. 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.


Students with disabilities should provide me with documentation from the Office of Students with Disabilities.


Cellular Phones: If you have a cellular phone or pager, turn it off or set it to vibrate, and keep it in your backpack or purse. All cell phones must be put away during the class session. I will confiscate cellular phones for the remainder of the class session if you are sending or reading text messages or using your phone to check email/surf the Internet.




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 DePaul's policy on academic integrity. 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