to Sept. 11 explore aspects of terrorism
Classes taught by experts in political rhetoric, foreign diplomacy to meet on Sept. 11
SAN FRANCISCO, August 21, 2002 -- As the first anniversary of Sept. 11 approaches, San Francisco State University students this fall will study the most devastating terrorist attack on American soil through four classes.
The newest course is "The Rhetoric of Terrorism," taught by well-known political communications expert Joseph Tuman, a professor of speech and communication studies.
The four-unit class, which begins Aug. 28, will look at terrorism as a form of rhetorical communication. Students will analyze public discourse on terrorism, from President George W. Bush's speeches after the attacks and Osama bin Laden's video messages to the way in which average people talk about terrorism.
Again this semester David Fischer, SFSU's Ambassador-in-Residence and a veteran foreign diplomat, will teach an international relations course on "Terrorism and Covert Political Warfare," created last spring as a direct result of Sept. 11. This semester the class will go into greater detail about the Al-Qaeda terrorism network.
Two criminal justice courses will touch on aspects of the Sept. 11 tragedies, both taught by Jeffrey Snipes, a newly hired assistant professor who was previously a Rockefeller legal fellow in nonprofit law at the Vera Institute of Justice in New York. In his "Criminal Profiling" class, Snipes will discuss racial profiling and how it affects Arab Americans in light of Sept. 11, as well as other applications of personality studies in violent crime cases. In the "Extremism as Crime" course, Snipes and his students will discuss issues of terrorism and criminal justice.
"The Rhetoric of Terrorism" and "Terrorism and Covert Political Warfare" meet the day of Sept. 11. Reporters are welcome to attend these classes that day.
Tuman's class will explore how terrorists manipulate the mass media, and, in turn, how the mass media manipulate terrorism. The fear of terrorism is more powerful than any terrorist act itself, Tuman said, as the fears and threats are "socially constructed" through the flow of information to the public through the media.
"More people are affected by the meaning of terrorism than the actual number of victims, even though thousands of people died on Sept. 11. Millions of people are reminded of the fear each time a new video is released by Al-Jazeera," he said. "'Sept. 11' has become its own term of currency, and we all know what it means.
"Rather than looking at terrorism in the traditional way of violence used against civilians to achieve political ends, I'm suggesting that we try to view it as a process of communication with rhetorical dimensions, to better understand how it works," Tuman added.
While the class will focus heavily on Sept. 11-related activity, it will also explore suicide bombings in Israel and terrorist acts committed by the Ku Klux Klan, Irish Republican Army, Carlos the Jackal, the Tupamoros group in Uruguay, and others.
One of the Bay Area's top analysts of political speeches, interviews and other forms of political communication, Tuman is also an expert in legal rhetoric and constitutional law and has published widely on free-speech and hate-speech issues. He earned his J.D. from the Boalt Hall School of Law. Tuman's new book, "Meaning, Message and Audience: Terrorism and Rhetoric," will be published later this fall.
Beginning in late October, a six-session course offered in SFSU's College of Extended Learning called "Exploring Nonviolence in a Time of War and Terror" will delve into the relationship between war, terror and violence and discuss how society can move closer to a nonviolent state through philosophical, classical and contemporary readings on these topics.
Jack R. Wikse, a longtime activist and nonviolence advocate who is a professor of social theory at Shimer College in Chicago, will teach the course.
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