Spring 2021 - CMNS 304W D100

Communication in Everyday Life (4)

Class Number: 2888

Delivery Method: Remote


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 2:30 PM – 5:20 PM

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 23, 2021
    11:59 PM – 11:59 PM
    TAKE HOME-EXAM, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units, including one of CMNS 220, 221, 223, 223W, 235.



An examination of a range of theories of everyday language focused on specific forms of discursive practice, including gossip, humour, religion, and sarcasm. Students with credit for CMNS 304 may not take this course for further credit. Writing.


Everyday life is made up of the activities, routines, and habits that we are most familiar with. Our own daily habits take on a veneer of normality and yet everyone’s differ slightly, from our morning rituals, use of language, and how we think about ourselves. These subjective differences create our identities, interpersonal conflict and misunderstanding, and preferences and taste. Often, however, the motivations behind our everyday activities and what structures them go unnoticed and fade into the background as a matter of tradition, whether personal, familial, or cultural.

In an endeavour to better understand what shapes our daily activities, this course examines everyday life to explore what social forces influence the shape our everyday lives. The course is structured according to three broad themes: language, dialogue and communication; subjectivity, self, and social identity; and how the places, activities, and things of everyday develop persistent structures. Through these themes the course will explore how meaning comes to be established through language, how tensions between differences in understandings and interpretations of meaning are negotiated and disputed, and the power dynamics that produce dominant and persistent understandings. These dynamics will be explored through theoretical concepts including situatedness, tradition, and the status quo in order to relate these discussions through everyday experiences. We will investigate these everyday experiences for the signs and meanings that are at play within each of them to better understand the world they produce.

As this is a third-year Writing (W) course, students are expected to do a significant amount of weekly reading and writing. Course assignments include critical article analyses, short argumentative essays, a term paper, and final exam. The short assignments are intended to provide students with the opportunity to practice fundamentals of writing: close reading, writing often, editing thoroughly, and argumentation.


  • Tutorial Attendance (5) & Participation (10): 15%
  • Critical Article Analyses: (4% per) 16%
  • Short Argumentative Essays: (3 X 8%) 24%
  • Term Paper: 25%
  • Final Exam: 20%


The School expects that the grades awarded in this course will bear some reasonable relation to established university-wide practices with respect to both levels and distribution of grades. Please refer to the School of Communication grading guidelines for information of what each letter grade represents. Available here: http://www.sfu.ca/content/dam/sfu/communication/ programs/resource/2011-CMNS-NEW-grading-chart.pdf Per the guidelines, A grade level work requires surpassing expectations, not merely meeting assignment requirements.

In addition, the School will follow Policy S10.01 with respect to Academic Integrity, and Policies S10.02, S10.03 and S10.04 as regards Student Discipline. [Note: as of May 1, 2009, the previous T10 series of policies covering Intellectual Honesty (T10.02), and Academic Discipline (T10.03) have been replaced with the new S10 series of policies.]

There will be zero tolerance towards plagiarism. Please see Library’s plagiarism website: https://www.lib.sfu.ca/help/academic-integrity/plagiarism



Course readings will be made available online via Canvas

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in spring 2021 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).