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Communication Theory and Millennial Popular Culture

Essays and Applications

Edited By Kathleen Glenister Roberts

Theories help to troubleshoot gaps in our understanding, and to make sense of a world that is constantly changing. What this book tries to do, in part, is blur the lines between the differences between today’s college students – the millennial generation – and their professors, many of whom hail from the Boom Generation and Generation X.
In the following chapters, contributors build upon what both parties already know. Writing in a highly accessible yet compelling style, contributors explain communication theories by applying them to «artifacts» of popular culture. These «artifacts» include Lady Gaga, Pixar films, The Hunger Games, hip hop, Breaking Bad, and zombies, among others. Using this book, students will become familiar with key theories in communication while developing creative and critical thinking. By experiencing familiar popular culture artifacts through the lens of critical and interpretive theories, a new generation of communication professionals and scholars will hone their skills of observation and interpretation – pointing not just toward better communication production, but better social understanding.
Professors will especially enjoy the opportunities for discussion this book provides, both through the essays and the «dialogue boxes» where college students provide responses to authors’ ideas.


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Part I: Rhetoric


Part I Rhetoric CHAPTER 1 Improving Your Speech Delivery with Modern Family and Friends Nancy Bressler This chapter examines some principles of public speaking, especially how nonverbal cues can be used to enhance or diminish credibility while speak- ing. Using some basic public speaking texts and analyses of speeches from two popular sitcoms—Modern Family and Friends—I will illustrate in detail several ways in which good nonverbal communication can affect your credi- bility while giving a speech. First, I will introduce the TV shows and a spe- cific episode from each. Then the chapter will discuss how credibility is perceived in public speaking. Finally, I will demonstrate how each nonverbal speaking principle influences the credibility of the speaker, and offer exam- ples from the TV sitcoms. Let’s get started with Modern Family. Modern Family The ABC domestic sitcom Modern Family (2009–present) has proven to be a major ratings draw, with 12.6 million viewers and a 4.2 rating with adults 18–49 for its pilot episode (Hibberd, 2010). Modern Family is an unconven- tional family sitcom that uses a “mockumentary” format. A mockumentary is a genre of media that looks and sounds like a documentary, but within the context of a fictional program (Hight, 2001). A single camera follows the action, focuses in on characters’ expressions, and frequently cuts away from the show to provide the audience with more details about the characters’ true thoughts and feelings (Wilson, 2010). In a mockumentary, characters can break the fourth wall by...

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