Naming the Discipline of Communicology


  Naming the Discipline of Communicology


The Discourse of Human Communication has been studied under many academic names through the centuries. In ancient Greece, Rhetoric was studied alongside Philosophy as public speaking (sophistic) and as conversational dialogue (maieutic). In the Middle Ages, Rhetoric was taught in the universities as part of the Trivium of "Arts" (Rhetoric, Logic, Grammar) in comparison to the Quadrivium of "Sciences" (Arithmetic, Astronomy, Geometry, Music). Hence, the origin in USA universities of a "college of arts and sciences".


The study of Rhetoric in the United States of America evolved from the study of oratory to a focus on the pedagogy of written expression and then back to an emphasis on Speech (oral language) as a distinct subject matter crossing all of the arts and sciences. The need for a defining name for this new comprehensive human science discipline of communication was debated for many years resulting in a 1958 proposal by Wendell Johnson, then advanced in print by Franklin Knowner for the disciplinary name COMMUNICOLOGY. [Franklin H. Knower, "A Model for Communicology", The Ohio Speech Journal (annual publication), 1962, vol. 1, pp. 181-187; diagram, p. 183]


A prototypical Western modernity list includes the following discipline names leading up to the present international use of Communicology.


 The Eighteenth Century


Grammar [art of written discourse]  

Homilitics [art of preaching]

Logic [art of rational thinking; later glossed as Critical Thinking]

Oratory [art of public address]

Rhetoric [art of spoken discourse; argumentation and debate]


 The Nineteenth Century


Philology  [the meaning of human speech as found in the language of literature and cultural practice]

Public Speaking [public address; oratory]

Rhetoric [art of spoken and written discourse; argumentation and debate]

Semiology  [study of signs in linguistic codes]

Symbology  [study of applied signs as Icons, Indices, and Symbols of culture; a synonym for Communication]


 The Twentieth Century


Communication  [Network Levels: Intrapersonal, Interpersonal, Group, Culture]

Communication Arts

Communication Sciences

Communication Sciences and Disorders

Communication Arts and Sciences

Communication and Fine Arts

Communication and Informatics

Communication and Information

Communication and Media

Communication and Media Studies

Communication and Rhetorical Studies

Communication, Culture, and Media Studies

Communication Studies

Cybernetics  [Communication and Control Theory in (1) humans and machines; variously Ergonomics, Human Factors, Complex Systems, and in (2) biology; variously General Systems Theory, Social Systems Theory]


Journalism and Integrated Media

Linguistics; Applied Linguistics  [variously Language Arts, Psycolinguistics, Sociolinguistics, Cultural Linguistics]

Mass Communication

Mass Media

Mass Media and Journalism

Radio and Television

Rhetoric [spoken discourse; contrasts with written, especially fictive, discourse in English departments]

Semiotics  [study of all verbal and non-verbal Codes and Signification; Divisions: Semantics, Syntactics, Pragmatics]


Speech and Theater

Speech Communication

Speech Communication and Theater

Speech Pathology and Audiology [Physiology, variously Communication Disorders; Audiology, variously Hearing Science]


Theater and Performing Arts [variously Performance Studies; often includes Dance]



  The Twenty-First Century


Communication and Culture

COMMUNICOLOGY  [proposed 1958; formally adopted by ICI in 2000]

Culture Studies  [variously Critical Studies]

Culture Studies and Communication

Discourse Studies [variously Conversational Analysis Studies]

Human Communication Studies

Linguistic Semiotics and Communicology

Language, Culture, and Communication

Media and Culture Studies

Rhetoric, Pragmalinguistics, and Journalism

Rhetology  [art and science of discourse]  ♦ appeared on unattributed webpage 2009 ♦

Semiotics  [study of all signs as communication systems: animal (biological), human, machine]


► National Communication Association (USA)

Analysis of Communication Department Names in the USA  (Published October 2011)


Note: Study data did NOT include "Department of COMMUNICOLOGY, University of Hawaii" created in September 2011.


  Building the Discipline’s Future


  Thinking about updating the COURSE TITLES in your university department or degree program? Consider the Nominal Category Designations that students are already reading on the world-wide-web. Go to:   Definition: Communicology