Why Writing Works

Disciplinary Approaches to Composing Texts

Communication Studies: Disciplinary Perspective

by Professor Benjamin Walker

The field of Communication Studies actually was a part of the field of English for a long period of time. Without launching into a long history lesson, Communication Studies essentially split from English over differences about the written and spoken word. But even today you can see the overlaps with emphasis in rhetorical analysis, persuasion, and the analysis and performance of literature. The most glaring connect is with the dreaded 5-paragraph essay and a formal speech you might have to do in a speech class. Those are to teach the basics of writing/speaking, but the best writers/speakers go far beyond those limited constraints.

Communication Studies centers on the study of how we interact with the world around us. Like many other fields, Communication Studies has a broad range of specific areas that students explore. Sometimes the field is labeled as Speech Communication, Rhetorical Studies, Media Studies, Public Relations, or Mass Media.

Watzlawick, Beavin, and Jackson (1967) famously claim that one cannot not communicate. Therefore, communication is dependent on both the sender of a message and the receiver. Conveying and understanding messages sent between people is what Communication Studies is all about. Sometimes messages are verbal (written or spoken), but most often the messages are nonverbal, which is where communication can get complicated.

Professional organizations for professional life

There are a variety of organizations that serve communication professionals. One of the largest is the National Communication Association (NCA). There are many state and regional groups that can help you be a better professional, but often the national or global organizations are able to provide the best resources and networking. Students interested in Public Relations should connect with Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), as it is the premier group for that branch of study. Those more interest in new media would find the Society for Cinema and Media Studies to be more useful.

Professional organizations for scholarly work

While there are many local and regional outlets, the main organization for scholarly work in Communication Studies is the National Communication Association (NCA).

Non-scholarly writing in Communication Studies

These sources are critical in our world today. The beauty of communication is that it is everywhere and involves all forms of writing. New media like blogs and websites are big and help many people process the world around them. Learning how to write for a variety of audiences in a variety of contexts is important in almost any profession. But being able to write online is becoming increasingly vital for professional success.


Writing in Communication Studies

Reading in Communication Studies

Research in Communication Studies

Documentation in Communication Studies