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Students to Present Capstone Projects

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On Tuesday, December 1, 2009, the four Communication Studies majors enrolled in Capstone will be presenting their final research projects in the Prothro Room at 4:00 p.m.

Completing a major research paper is a lot of work, as students in Dr. Thornton’s Capstone Seminar have discovered. On Tuesday, December 1, Alex Caple, Cody Coughlin, Jordan Hall and Lili McEntire will be presenting their final research projects for Communication Studies faculty, majors, and anyone else who would like to attend.

All four projects are grounded in communication studies scholarship and research methods, and each is situated at the intersections of rhetorical, media and cultural studies. In his rhetorical analysis, Alex Caple compares and contrasts a major address by former President Bill Clinton and President Obama to understand better how each president exercises rhetorical leadership in the context of the national health care debate. Through a close analysis of each speech, Caple concludes that presidential rhetoric scholars should pay heed to the timing of debates as a key factor influencing a president’s style of rhetorical leadership.

Cody Coughlin takes up an important concept in communication studies inquiry, the “rhetorical situation,” and shows how the rhetorical strategies of social movements change in response to changes in the situation or context that they are addressing. Specifically, Coughlin analyzes a decade of NORML (National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws) press releases to examine how NORML’s persuasive strategies and tactics have changed in response to an increasingly hospitable legislative and social environment.

Jordan Hall delves into a longstanding debate regarding the ideological consequences of images of women and femininity in the context of weddings and bridal culture. Hall performs a comparative analysis of wedding gown advertisements and wedding photographs to argue that although most scholars tend to focus on the hegemonic or oppressive aspects of such imagery, these images also function as potentially empowering resources for women. Hall’s argument that these images are sites of contestation, and not simply clear-cut instances of gender oppression, makes an original contribution to scholarship on communication studies, visual rhetoric, and feminism.

Lili McEntire takes up the question of what advertisers are doing to persuade middle-aged people to adopt new media technologies. Her case study is text messaging, and she analyzes four mainstream commercials targetting middle-aged audiences to determine what types of appeals are made to this demographic. McEntire’s analysis is a clear contribution to new media studies and scholarship on advertising.

The Communication Studies curriculum now requires all majors to complete a major research project for their Capstone requirement.