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Teaching Through the 2012 Federal Election: An Annotated Bibliography

posted: 7.23.12 by archived

As a rhetorician, I can’t help but get a little bit excited about the idea of teaching writing during a presidential election. In the past, I have organized assignments around debates, commercials, fact-checking, and all kinds of other election-based nerdery. In this post, I just want to share a few resources for people who, like me, may be planning now to teach an election-based class or assignment this fall.

The excellent article “Palin/Pathos/Peter Griffin: Political Video Remix and Composition Pedagogy” presents case studies of three student “political video remixes”—this was an assignment the authors used in a class on political rhetoric and new media.” The authors do a great job showing how and why such an assignment works. If this project interests you, look at this similar article on the “Vote Different” campaign from the 2008 election, or this article on political video mashups before YouTube

If you want to ask students to watch and analyze a presidential debate several good sources can help you plan for this. For instance, see “Political Rhetoric and the English Classroom” by Theodore Fabiano and Todd Goodson from the 1992 election. There are also several articles that look at how TV frames the debates, the most recent of which is Kim, Scheufele, and Brossard’s study of the 2004 debates. Kenski and Stroud also analyze who watches presidential debates, and this information can help you talk to students about audience. Finally, the American Presidency Project has archived thousands of debates from 1960–2012.

Here’s the schedule for the presidential debates, so you can plan your syllabus accordingly:

  • First Presidential Debate: October 3, 2012; University of Denver, Denver, CO
  • Vice-Presidential Debate: October 11, 2012;
 Centre College, Danville, Kentucky
  • Second Presidential Debate: October 16, 2012;
 Hofstra University, Hempstead, New York
  • Third Presidential Debate: October 22, 2012;
 Lynn University, Boca Raton, Florida

There are several places to view current and past presidential campaign commercials. Perhaps the most impressive collection is held by the Museum of the Moving Image; their Living Room Candidate site offers a means of making or re-editing your own commercial, as well. Stanford’s Political Communication Lab is already beginning to stockpile media for the 2012 election.

Finally, if you want to create a research-based assignment around the election, the Annenberg Center has a great fact-checking site. NPR also has The Message Machine, with features analyzing 2012 ads, speeches, and spin.

If you are planning a class or assignment around the 2012 election, please share your ideas here!

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