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Comm Studies Guide

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Communication Studies


SCOM 381: Communication Criticism                   

Background Information:

Need information about the theories related to Comm Criticism?

 Try these:
Encyclopedia of Communication Theory

Encyclopedia of Political Communication

International Encyclopedia of Communication

Dictionary of Critical Theory

Encyclopedia of Rhetoric

What are these?  These are encyclopedias that can get you unstuck when you run across a term or concept that you don't know enough about to understand what you should do next. You will not use these to search for articles (use the scholarly articles content below for that).  Remember, if you are off campus, you need to be set up with the VPN client or proxy to make these work for you.  Also true if you want to use the databases. 

Artifacts to Critique

Looking for Speeches?
Famous people (like His Holiness the Dalai Lama ) have websites or archives that will collect their speech transcripts, please be careful to use official collections.  Lesser knowns will show up in some Google searches. Consider also collections of speeches like these library databases:

American Rhetoric Speech Bank: This is a great place to look for speeches when you are unsure about what you want to research.  Organized by broad topic (Iraq War Speeches), speaker or speeches from film (like Brando in Streetcar, "STELLA!"). Please try to ignore the ads, it is a library database. 

Presidential or major political figures usually have speech archives available on the free internet.  Sources like, The American Presidency Project or the press section of any current sitting political figure giving a major speech, (like: 1/25/2011 State of the Union address) on the office holder's or office's web page (Speaker Boehner's press archive on his Congressional webpage).  You can also find an archive of video news coverage of major speeches with the Vanderbilt Television News Archive

LexisNexis and Factiva (library databases with news content) also provide transcripts of media coverage of major or controversial speeches.  (like Meet the Press, or ABC News coverage). 

Looking for Films?

You can look in the Internet Movie Database to search for films on a topic or subject. Use JMU Library Catalog to see if we own the film, shooting script or a collection of the television show you want to critique.   The library database, American Film Scripts contains over a thousand scripts in addtion to notes on scenes. Check the film reviews sources to locate film reviews.  Additionally, you might consult the Media Art Librarian's Quick Grid:  Film Summaries, Reviews, Criticism

Looking for Ads or Campaigns?
Images from print ads can be found in these digital collections:  Ad*Access (historical ads from 1911-1955).  For more contempory ad campaigns try Encyclopedia of Major Marketing Campaigns or consider looking in JMU Library Catalog to see if we have a book on a campaign (like this one).  You might also try looking in collections of advertisements like this one.  For content around Public Service Announcements try the AdCouncil's website or the company or organization sponsoring the campaign websites. 

Searching for Scholarly Articles

Try Communication and Mass Media Complete to find scholarly articles by communication scholars about your artifact (speech, ad campaign, television show).  Other disciplines also pay attention to the messages and content of important figures or events, so you might also consider. 


Database Use for
America: History and Life historical figures, presidents, leaders, diplomats
Sociological Abstracts effects on groups (the poor) or type (like political or opinion)

Business Source Complete



treatment of speeches given in business settings or by business leaders or articles about ad or marketing campaigns
Women's Studies International women issues related to speeches, consider for feminist critique topics
Alternative Press Index & Archive radical or left-leaning sources of information
PsycNet behavior changes or effects on people (dominance, influence)
Worldwide Political Science Abstracts political figures or analysis of political artifacts


Citing Your Sources
You must cite every source you use. To get citation help you can use:

CheckCite - sort of a beginner's guide to using sources

Library Style Manual on APA - examples of the most commonly cited materials

Refworks - a bibliographic citation manager.   


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Off Campus Access




Liaison Librarian

Kathy Clarke
(540) 568-2911
115 Carrier Library


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Have a suggestion? Need Help? Ask Kathy Clarke
This page last reviewed by   Kathy Clarke on January 11, 2011
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Last updated: Monday, January 14, 2013

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