The Millsaps English Department offers degree programs in Literature in English, Communcation Studies, and Creative Writing. In each of these fields we have designed a curriculum which reflects both our respect for intellectual traditions and an appreciation of the way those traditions have been transformed by the inclusion of other voices.
When most students consider an area of study, one question dominates: what can I do with this degree? If that degree is Communications Studies, then the answer to the question is: just about anything. At the end of this page, there is a list of specific professions traditionally associated with the communications discipline, but one fact ties all of these professions together. In a media-driven and media-saturated world, all employers are looking for skilled communicators.
But there is more to the study of communication than learning a marketable skill set. The Communications Studies major at Millsaps College challenges you to ask a different set of questions: Who am I? Who are we as human beings? How do we relate to one another? The study of communication addresses these questions, challenging us to think about our relationships with others and the world around us.
The field of communication is very broad. It can cover anything from studying dating relationships to learning to manage international conflict, from writing screenplays to studying the effect of political campaigns. In the Millsaps Communications Studies major, we introduce you to the breadth of the communication field, and we focus our attention in three key areas: Media Literacy, Cultural Studies, and Rhetorical Studies.
A primary objective of the Communications Studies major at Millsaps College is learning to navigate a media-saturated world. In short, we learn how to "read" media. For some, this objective may seem simple. After all, we all "read" media all the time, right? But our focus here draws on what the English Department calls "close reading." This means we are interested in understanding things like genre and narrative structure. We are interested in visual symbols and their meanings. We are interested in messages: their structure, their meaning, and their interpretation. The Communications Studies major at Millsaps will equip you with the theoretical and analytical skills necessary to "unpack" the media products you encounter everyday, helping you become engaged media consumers and producers.
A key question in the study of communication is the role that it plays in culture. What is culture? How is it formed? Is it powerful? Cultural Studies addresses these questions. If we think of the field of communications as a web, Cultural Studies is a theoretical strand within that web. The major will give you a broad overview of the communications web, and it will focus on this strand, engaging and challenging its theoretical questions and assumptions.
Rhetoric, according to Aristotle, is the art of persuasion. Another objective in the major is to learn this art. This requires two related elements: 1) learning how to persuade, 2) learning to interpret persuasion. To achieve this objective you will develop rhetorical skills, e.g., public speaking, critical listening, visual production, and writing across media platforms for a variety of audiences. You will also explore rhetorical theory, communication history and ethics.
The overall goal of the Communications Studies major at Millsaps College is to develop skilled communicators. This involves learning communication skills: speaking, writing, producing, and listening. And it involves a journey through history, philosophy, theory and ethics.
Completing this major will help prepare you for a variety of professions, including (but not limited to):
Advertising account management and media buying