Story by Larissa Wurm
There is a new rhetoric class offered in the spring semester, taught by visiting professor Alyssa Ann Samek.
Samek got into rhetoric and political communication during her undergraduate years at St. Thomas in Minneapolis.
“I really started studying politics, and more specifically women and sexuality in politics,” Samek said. “I studied a local city councilman, the first Hmong state senator and Hillary Clinton’s 2000 campaign.”
This led to grad school in Colorado, where she wrote her thesis on the public memorial for Paul Wellstone, a senator from Minnesota who was killed in a plane crash in 2002.
Samek then went to the University of Maryland for her doctorate.
“While I was studying there, I was surrounded by D.C. politics for six years and the constant political culture, like think tanks, non-profits, speech writers, Congressional committees and so on,” Samek said.
She asked her friends who have worked in D.C. and in political jobs by what they would look for in job or internship applicants to have as far as writing samples and experiences.
Their answers helped Samek design her assignments.
“I wanted assignments that would be useful for students who have an interest in political communication and discourse,” Samek said.
Samek said it’ll be interesting to teach this class during a time there isn’t a general election. She had originally taught the class during the 2012 election.
“We had originally talked about memes and ads and commercials,” Samek said. “This time, we can really study the rhetoric and analysis of political discourse and the production of it all.”
“I want students to prepare with their assignments with own interests in mind, whether it’s a policy or a campaign they would like to join,” Samek said. “The assignments will help with a particular goal and help create a portfolio to help you when you find a job. We’ll write for specific audiences, whether it’s a speech, opposition, policy issue, et cetera. There will be a time frame involved, a situation, target audience, and you’ll be informed by the previous assignment for the class.”
Samek said rhetoric courses are important to help understand communication in the culture anywhere, but especially in Des Monies.
“Iowa is this fascinating epicenter of political activity,” Samek said. “Studying rhetoric can help everyone understand it in a new thought-provoking and inspiring way.”
“It’s directly related to what I want to do as a career,” said Nathan Erickson, a senior marketing major. “Plus, it sounds like a really interesting and worthwhile class.
“I’m looking forward to being able to put what I learn in class directly toward my future in politics.”