About Comm Arts

The Department

Communication Arts is one of the largest departments in the College of Letters and Science, with upwards of 600 undergraduate majors and a graduate program of 80 MA and PhD students. Nearly 4000 students enroll in its classes each semester. The department offers two tracks of study at the undergraduate level: Rhetoric and Communication Science, and Radio-TV-Film. At the graduate level, degrees are offered in Media and Cultural Studies, Rhetoric, Politics, & Culture, Film, and Communication Science. We teach media production courses as well as critical studies. Students and faculty in Communication Arts analyze the production and consumption of communication in all its forms: its influence and effects, its history and industry structures, the uses to which it is put, its characteristic forms and texts, and the technologies through which it is made, distributed and used. Communication is one of the fastest-growing fields in the humanities and social sciences today. The department has taken the lead in the critical study and production of digital media. In the Fall of 2012 we began offering students from across the campus the opportunity to earn a Digital Studies Certificate as part of their BA programs. This is part of an interdisciplinary initiative in the digital humanities supported by Madison Initiative for Undergraduates funds, with five main departmental partners: Communication Arts, Library and Information Studies, Journalism and Mass Communications, English, and Art. We also offer one of the basic Communication-A courses for the whole campus, CA100, Introduction to Public Speaking, which enrolls more than 1000 students each year. The Department also carries on extensive outreach through our fifty-year custodianship of one of the leading archives of film, theater, and television-related materials in the nation, the Wisconsin Center for Film Research; in our Center for Communication Research with its lectures, research projects, and seminar programs; and in our weekly Cinematheque film screenings that bring in audiences from across the campus and the community.