University of Malta

Study-Unit Description
UOM Main Page
Apply - Admissions 2016


TITLE Communicating the Word in a Media-Dominated Culture Seminar

LEVEL 05 - Postgraduate Modular Diploma or Degree Course


DEPARTMENT Pastoral Theology, Liturgy and Canon Law

DESCRIPTION At the end of his career, media scholar and convert to Catholicism, Marshall McLuhan famously posed the question: "How do we preach the Incarnation to discarnate men (sic)?" This study unit attempts to explore concrete pastoral orientations to this question, by suggesting how ministers must become masters of a "digital rhetoric" as an effective response to the challenges posed by digital culture. Just as in his De Doctrina Christiana, Augustine proposed rhetoric grounded in the interpretation of the Scriptures and all reality as key strategy for Christian formation, the Ciceronian principles of becoming a "learned orator" will be applied to developing contemporary pastoral strategies through all media.

The study-unit will include four parts:

(1) the study of key texts from the Catholic teachings on social communications
(2) the importance of "persuasiveness" as orientation to "communicating the Good News" in digital culture
(3) examples of rhetorical strategies from the tradition e.g. music, art, preaching and teaching
(4) examples of successful rhetorical strategies in digital culture.
Lastly, some examples of pastoral strategies through digital media will be explored as students will be invited to present their own projects and reflections for group discussion.

Study-unit Aims:

The study-unit aims to introduce students to the importance of rhetorical principles in pastoral strategies whose primary focus is communicating the word of God. These rhetorical principles however, must be applied to every medium (digital or not) according to its specific form in order to reap the benefits of transformation. Through studying traditional and contemporary examples of successful literate and digital rhetoric, students will be invited to emulate these strategies in innovative ways in their ministry.

Learning Outcomes

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

a. understand the basic principles of classical rhetoric;
b. understand how to grasp the form of every medium in order to determine how to "use" the medium effectively as communication tool.

2. Skills:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

a. be empowered to use new media effectively to achieve desired pastoral ends according to the classical dictum: "to teach, to delight and to move"

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Gunther Kress, Literacy in the New Media Age. New York: Routledge, 2003.

J.D. Applen and Rudy McDaniel. The Rhetorical Nature of XML: Constructing Knowledge in Networked Environments. New York: Routledge, 2009 (Ch. 1)

Ian Bogost. "The Rhetoric of Video Games." In The Ecology of Games: Connecting Youth, Games, and Learning. Edited by Katie Salen. MIT Press, 2008.

Henry Jenkins. Convergence Culture: Where old and new media collide. New York University Press, 2006.

Henry Jenkins. Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century. MIT Press, 2009. (free ebook)

Jeff Stibel. Breakpoint. Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.

Brett T. Robinson. Appletopia: Media Technology and the Religious Imagination of Steve Jobs. Baylor University Press, 2013.

Eugene Gan. Infinite bandwidth: Encountering Christ in the Media. Emmaus Road Publishing, 2010.

Richard Viladesau. Theology and the Arts: Encountering God through Music, Art and Rhetoric. Paulist Press, 2000.

Sylvia Collins-Mayo et all. The faith of Generation Y. Church House Publishing, 2010.

Pavel Florensky. Beyond Vision: essays on the perception of art. Edited by Nicoletta Misler. Reaktion Books, 2002.

Pope Benedict XVI. World Communication Day Messages. Pontifical Council for Social Communications, 2013. (free ebook)


Assessment Component/s Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment Yes 100%

LECTURER/S Nadia Delicata

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the study-unit description above applies to the academic year 2017/8, if study-unit is available during this academic year, and may be subject to change in subsequent years.

Augustinian Institute Academic Year 2017-18

 Click here for more information


Dissertation Logbook
The Dissertation Logbook can be found here.


Log In back to UoM Homepage