Main Content

Areas of Emphasis

SIU Communication Studies student studying outside with computer.

Our school's graduate programs provide an exceptionally rich environment for learning. Our distinguished faculty are nationally and internationally recognized in their fields. They will serve as your mentors, advisors, and guides as you refine your academic pursuits and goals.

Students can choose one of the following areas of emphasis to focus their educational endeavors: Gender, Sexuality, and Relational Communication; Intercultural Communication and Pedagogy; Performance Studies; or Rhetoric and Society.

Gender, Sexuality and Relational Communication

This area examines the construction and representation of gender, sexuality and interpersonal relationships from a variety of theoretical and methodological perspectives. Courses offered in this area explore and promote the viability of individuals, sexualities, and relationships as powerful sites of cultural creativity, critique and resistance.

In concert with issues in class, race, language and culture, this area focuses on such topics as gender and social movements; feminist perspectives on pedagogy, spirituality, persuasion, conflict, sports, performance, organizational communication and health communication; eco-feminism; queer theory; and postcolonial perspectives on gender and sexuality.

Courses also examine families, friendships, and intimate relationships as sites of relational communication and  gender construction. Several courses encourage analysis and critique of media and discursive representations of gender, sexuality, and communication in relationships.

Intercultural Communication and Pedagogy

Our courses in intercultural communication and pedagogy take critical, interpretive, postmodern and performative approaches to culture, communication, pedagogy and difference across multiple contexts in an increasingly interconnected yet uneven world.

Courses in intercultural communication focus on issues related to identity, intersectionality (e.g., race, ethnicity, nationality,  gender, sexuality, ability, class, etc.), power differentials, language, discourse and the politics of representation, postcoloniality and globalization as these relate to the study of culture and communication.

Courses focusing on pedagogy examine the multiple intersections of instruction and communication in a variety of educational contexts, and emphasize critical-cultural, performative and constitutive theoretical and methodological perspectives on teaching and learning.

Performance Studies

Performance studies considers historical and contemporary aesthetic communication in both everyday life and the heightened, staged events more typically associated with the word “performance.” Everyday life performance coursework includes conversational performance, gender and performance, and performance and identity, as well as performance in political contexts such as performance and the environment.

We also offer coursework in conspicuously aesthetic performance, including adaptation of literature for the stage, performance art, autobiographical performance, ethnographic performance, and performance in mediated environments.

Students combine theory and practice into an artistic/scholarly praxis by studying and embodying performance history related to these forms, methods for performance composition, the evolution of performance theory, performance as a mode of inquiry, and critical approaches to documenting and analyzing performance as a communicative encounter.  

Students have the opportunity to work with faculty to create productions in our Kleinau Theatre as a stepping stone to presenting their work at conventions, fringe festivals, and professional performance spaces.

Rhetoric and Society

Coursework in this area prepares students for research and teaching that conceptualizes communication developed in several rhetorical traditions.

The area embraces a broad conception of rhetoric that includes spoken, written, performative, visual, and digital modes of communication and occurs in contexts both public and private, with particular emphasis on the roles public discourse plays in social movements and activism.

The area focuses on interests in argumentation theory, pragmatic theories of communication, rhetoric of inquiry, cultural studies, classical and contemporary rhetoric, public address, and rhetorical criticism.

Students choose from courses that emphasize rhetorical criticism and theory, the rhetoric of both men's and women's movements throughout history, and environmental rhetoric. Courses also cover comics as communication, communication in online communities, pedagogy, visual rhetoric and more.

School of Communication Studies | College of Liberal Arts | 618-453-2291 |