Elevator Pitch for the New Media Age: Short-Form Writing and Speaking

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Course Description

Tweets, Facebook posts, e-mails, texts, instant messages, news alerts, ads: ours is the age of short-form communication. This course offers an introduction to different styles and genres of short-form verbal and non-verbal communication to help make you a more persuasive, concise, and creative writer and speaker. We will examine historical and current uses of the short form across a variety of media and fields ranging from politics, art, literature, to business, advertisement, and new media, and explore its innovative possibilities for our new media age.

This course will combine practical work with theoretical explorations. We will analyze and discuss examples of short-form messages from different fields and media, such as: samples of slogans and short-messages from recent election campaigns; slogans and messages used in protests, especially the Occupy movement and the recent Twitter and Facebook revolutions; commercials and brands; Graffiti and street art; poetry (haiku, Emily Dickinson, ipoems); flash fiction; newscasts (including “fake news”); recent YouTube videos gone “viral.” We will couple our analyses with brief theoretical readings about new media, rhetoric, and persuasion. Using strategies and techniques we discover in our analyses, we then move on to practicing “the elevator pitch” on social, personal, and political issues that matter to us both in writing and orally.

Students will develop essential speaking, writing, and interpretation skills required at the college level and an understanding of the art of short-form communication that they can use in numerous contexts. The course also provides students the opportunity to further explore subjects that matter to them and communicate their findings compellingly. In addition, it offers a safe, enjoyable, and welcoming environment for students to experiment and find their unique voices as writers and speakers across different media.

One of the instructors, Ioana Jucan, is both a scholar of performance and media and a published creative writer, and the other instructor, Maurice Decaul, is a published playwright and poet. They both love sharing with students’ insights from their experience in these areas.

This course will give students the tools to analyze and discuss verbal and non-verbal messages from a critical, cultural, personal, technical, historical, and ethical perspective. It will teach them to express themselves in a concise, clear, and cogent way – a critical skill in our fast-paced world. By the end of the course, students will become familiar with techniques and strategies of persuasion involved in short-form communication, and will be able to use them creatively to craft concise messages in various formats.

Prerequisites: This course has no pre-requisites and provides a unique skill-building opportunity for all college-bound students. Whether their primary interests are in the humanities, politics, arts, sciences, or social sciences, the students will learn to communicate what interests them in a concise, creative, and persuasive manner.


Course Information

  • Course Code: CEMS0915
  • Length: 2 weeks

Program Information


Brown’s Pre-College Program in the liberal arts and sciences, offering over 200 non-credit courses, one- to four-weeks long, taught on Brown’s campus. For students completing grades 9-12 by June 2019.

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