ICSM Communicating like The Simpsons: Understanding Springfield, Ithaca and the World
ICSM Course Description
This course investigates the rhetorical dimensions of the longest-running sitcom in America, The Simpsons. Specifically, in this course students learn the ways in which signs and symbols influence us through a process called rhetoric. To this end, students or ‘Simpsonologists’ examine various episodes of the show to better understand the rhetorical processes by which the writers of the show seek to shape human thought and behavior. Consequently, the writers of The Simpsons aim to create alternative communicative practices in our society. Moreover, we pay special attention to the rhetoric of Simpsonology, that is, the way the Simpsons functions as both rhetoric and satire i.e., how it serves as corrective comedy to issues such as consumerism, nationality, sexuality, inequality, difference and political dysfunction.
Table of Contents
When you settle on a subject heading, open the "Subdivisions" link below it. Most General OneFile subject searchs produce very large retrievals and the "subdivisions" help you narrow your search to a particular aspect: "Ethical aspects," "Forecasts and Trends," "History," "Political aspects," "Psychological aspects," and "Social aspects," to name only a few.
If the best available subdivision is still too broad, open it and add your own Keywords in the "Search within these results" slot at the upper left.
User Advisory: When first viewing your retrievals in General OneFile, note that you are seeing only the "Magazines" (popular articles) and must click on the tabs for "Academic Journals" (scholarly articles) or "News" (newspaper articles) to see those results
Academic Search Premier : Comprehensive subject coverage with considerable full text. Note that there is a “Subject Terms” link just above the search boxes, allowing you to search the index of Subject Headings--often a good first stop for more efficient Subject searching whereby you are guaranteed that your topic is indeed a main subject of the articles retrieved.
Also from EBSCO, try the more discipline-specific databases--
- Communication Studies: a SAGE Full-Text Collection (no Subject searching here, but you can achieve similar focus by searching the Abstract field.
ProQuest Research Library is another comprehensive database with substantial full text. Use the "Thesaurus" (above the search slots) to preview what Subject Headings are available.
Note that to the right of your search results you can limit your retrieval by "Source Type" (including Magazines, Newspapers, Scholarly Journals), "Document Type," (including Cover Story, Editorial, or Interview), and "Location."
Above each set of articles you retrieve ProQuest will display related Subject searches to help either broaden or narrow your focus.
PsycINFO : The American Psychological Association use their own Subject vocabulary (called "Descriptors"), so a visit to the "Thesaurus" above the search slots is usually a good idea--but unfortunately there is no Subject Heading for "conspiracy" or "conspiracy theories" here. Both will work as keywords, however, and retrieve dozens of articles.
PsycINFO deals only with scholarly literature, much of it assuming a graduate-level understanding of the discipline. But among these you may find interesting, accessible articles on your topic.
User Advisory: If what you're searching for are "journals" in "English," it's a good idea to check those boxes below the search slots.
JSTOR : covers a wide range of scholarly journals in most disciiplines, always beginning with the first issue of each one. This provides 100% full text access to articles from not only the first half of the 20th century but even the second half of the 19th. Be aware, however, that at the other end of the date range articles don't appear in JSTOR until at least 1-2 years after publication.
JSTOR offers only a Keyword search of its complete full text, so retrievals are large, but the relevancy ranking does a good job of putting the strongest matches on the first few pages. This relevancy ranking does not weigh date, however, and will display a mix of articles written decades apart. So if your topic is time sensitive, be alert to publication dates.
User Advisory: The academic journals covered here feature numerous book reviews, so it's a good idea to tic the "Article" limit below the search slots so you won't be overwhelmed by book reviews on your topic.
Project Muse : provides 100% full text of mostly scholarly journals, but its coverage is entirely current--mainly spanning the only last 10-15 years. Muse uses a "black box" search approach--you enter your search terms in one slot with no designated field options. This broad approach to searching tends to generate large retrievals--almost 500 for "conspiracy theories"--so it's best to be as specific as possible. And note--once you have a retrieval set, you can add more search terms by clicking "Modify Search" at the top.
MLA International Bibliography provides the most complete and fully indexed coverage of articles and books on modern literatures, linguistics, folklore, rhetoric, and composition from 1925 to the present. There is ample full text provided by ProQuest, as well as links to full-text articles in JSTOR and Project Muse. Full text from other IC databases is also readily available via the "GetIt" links below article citations.
Because books, book chapters/essays, and dissertations will usually not be available full text, you may wish to limit your search to "Journal article" under "Source type."
"Author's Work" and "Author as Subject" will be especially helpful search fields at finding literary criticism. And for additional search field options either click on "Show more fields," or, for the complete list, open the drop-down menus to the right of the "Anywhere" default for the top three rows of search slots. This list includes both "Literary Influence"--who influenced a particular author you have entered--and "Literary Source"--who was influenced by that particular author.
If you set up a free "My Research" account with Proquest (top right), you can save all the articles you check, all the searches you want to remember, and set up e-mail or RSS notification for any new articles that match your search terms.
LexisNexis Academic News: Offering a keyword search of 100% full text from a vast number of national and international newspapers, this is an easy database to use poorly and a bit tricky to use well. In order not to be overwhelmed with articles in which your search terms are mentioned anywhere—first or last paragraph—or any number of times—once or ten times—use commands to target articles in which your topic words are mentioned early or mentioned often.
Use the hlead command (headline and lead paragraphs) to target articles in which your topic words occur in the prime news-story position of headline or first paragraphs. For example: hlead(fracking and pollution) will retrieve just the articles in which the words “fracking” and “pollution” are used in the headline or first paragraphs. Note: the term or terms to which you want this command to apply must be put in parentheses after hlead, with no space between.
Use the altleast command to target articles in which your topic words occur a set number of times. For example: atleast5(“gay marriage”) will retrieve only the articles where this phrase is used at least 5 times—indicating that it must be a main topic. You can plug in any number after atleast—atleast3 or atleast7. Note: the term or terms to which you want this command to apply must be put in parentheses with no space between the number you choose and the first parenthesis.
Use the date range offered under Advanced Options. Because this is a large database of 100% full text, one of the most effective ways to retrieve fewer than 1000 hits is to set up a time frame. Note: if you use the calendar icons to set beginning and end dates, you need to choose a year, a month, and a day for each. Without the day, the date won’t register.
CQ Researcher : A weekly publication from Congressional Quarterly. Each report (approx. 30 pages) examines a single issue relevant to American public policy. The non-partisan analysis always includes a "Background," "Current Situation," "Outlook," and "Pro/Con" section, as well as numerous charts and graphs of statistical data, maps, and a bibliography for further reading.
Opposing Viewpoints in Context : Go fishing in the search slot at the top and hope the autofill function steers you toward the right subject heading--or open the "Browse Issues" page and pick your topic from the extensive alphabetical list. Once you've connected with an issue you'll be offered resources from a range of categories, including Viewpoints, Academic Journals, Magazines, News, Reference, Statistics, and Websites.
Selected Subject Searches
Speech acts (Linguistics)
Figures of speech
English language--United States--Rhetoric
Language and languages--Sex differences
English language--Sex differences
Sexism in language
Oral communication--Social aspects
Discourse analysis--Social aspects
English language--Social aspects
English language--Social aspects--United States
Communication in families
Communication in small groups
Communication in organizations
Communication in management
Communication in education
Communication in science
Communication in medicine
Speeches, addresses, etc., Greek--History and criticism
Speeches, addresses, etc., Latin--History and criticism
Political oratory--United States
Communication in politics--United States
Communication in politics--United States--History--20th century
Mass media--Political aspects
Mass media--Political aspects--United States
Rhetoric--Political aspects--United States
Rhetoric--Political aspects--United States--20th century
Speeches, addresses, etc., American
Speeches, addresses, etc., American--History and criticism
Presidents--United States--Inaugural addresses
Political campaigns--United States
Public relations and politics
Hate speech--United States
Radio talk shows--United States
Forensics (Public Speaking)
Debates and debating
Forums (Discussion and debate)
Lectures and lecturing
MLA is the citation style used by most disciplines in the Humanities. Here is my guide to the latest (2016) update of the MLA style.
About the Library
What Do You Need?
- Ithaca College ID Card – Use to check out materials (books, scores, multimedia, laptops, etc.)
- Ithaca College Netpass Info (email) – Use for signing into computers and online materials
How Long Can You Keep Something You Get from the Library?
- Books and Scores: 1 semester (can renew twice)
- Audio and Video: 7 days (can renew twice)
Special materials may have different borrowing times—check the full list here.
Your Library Accounts
Clicking the GET IT arrow
Selected Ebook Central Titles
- Influencing Through Argument
- Influence : Gaining Commitment, Getting Results
- Persuasion and Rhetoric
- Maximum Influence : The Twelve Universal Laws of Power Persuasion
- Examining Argumentation in Context : Fifteen Studies on Strategic Maneuvering
- Influencing Others : A Handbook to Persuasive Strategies
- Getting Your Way Every Day : Mastering the Lost Art of Pure Persuasion
- Saving Persuasion : A Defense of Rhetoric and Judgment
- Forensic Rhetoric : The Force of Closing Arguments
- The Articulate Advocate
- Eloquence in an Electronic Age : The Transformation of Political Speechmaking
- Lost Art of the Great Speech : How to Write One - How to Deliver It
- On Eloquence
- Campaign Talk : Why Elections Are Good for Us
- Presidency and Rhetorical Leadership
- Presidential Rhetoric : Moral Rhetoric of American Presidents
- Presidential Voices : Speaking Styles from George Washington to George W. Bush
- Anti-Intellectual Presidency : The Decline of Presidential Rhetoric from George Washington to George W. Bush
- American Story : The Speeches of Barack Obama : A Primer
- Perspectives in Controversy : Selected Essays from Contemporary Argumentation & Debate
- Code of the Debater
- Pros and Cons : A Debater's Handbook
- Traditions of Controversy
- Argument and Audience
- Voices in the Sky : Radio Debates
- Discourse, Debate and Democracy
- Deliberative Politics : Essays on Democracy and Disagreement
- Navigating Opportunity : Policy Debate in the 21st Century
- Way We Argue Now : A Study in the Cultures of Theory
- Presidential Debates : The Challenge of Creating an Informed Electorate
- Active Voices : Composing a Rhetoric for Social Movements
- Rhetoric for Radicals : A Handbook for 21st Century Activists
- Rhetoric, Culture, and Social Critique : House of My Sojourn : Rhetoric, Women, and the Question of Authority
- Ethics and Politics of Speech : Communication and Rhetoric in the Twentieth Century
- Liars! Cheaters! Evildoers! : Demonization and the End of Civil Debate in American Politics
- Good to Talk? Living and Working in a Communication Culture
- Speaking Back. The free speech versus hate speech debate
Selected Web Sites
- Public Speaking Project Textbook: From the American Communication Association (ACA), an online textbook. See in particular Persuasive Speaking,
- Political Communication Lab: Research Papers: Scholarly essays on a wide range of political communication topics, from Stanford.
- Steve’s Primer of Practical Persuasion 3.0: Blog from an academic interested in research on persuasion techniques. Mouse over "Steve’s Primer of Practical Persuasion 3.0" for the table of contents.
- Debate Central: Learn to Debate: Lots of linked resources at this University of Vermont site. See especially the Watch a Debate section.
- Preparing Informative and Persuasive Speeches: Step-by-step approach.
- Public Speaking Tips: Detailed but succinct advice on the art of persuasion from MIT.
- Manner of Speaking: Analyses of Speeches: This site features videos of speeches with written commentary by a lawyer with a background in litigation and international law.
- Toastmasters International: Free Resources: Wide range of support resources from this nonprofit organization devoted to leadership through public speaking.
- Open Directory Projecct: Communication: Gateway of categorized links, including Public Speaking, Rhetoric, and Semiotics.
- Silva Rhetoricae: Dr. Gideon Burton's guide to classical rhetoric and its contemporary relevance. Choose a topic from the left column or a term from the right.
- American Rhetoric: Database of and index to 5000+ full text, audio and video versions of public speeches, sermons, legal proceedings, lectures, debates, interviews, and other recorded media events.
- ResearchChannel Video Library: The Channel is no more, but many of the videos are available here on YouTube..
- Forum Network: Audio/Video files collected by PBS/NPR.
- Speeches: Audiovideo files from History.com--almost 1500 videos and over 500 audios.
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