Special Topics Classes for WU-mester 2019

A number of special courses are available for the Spring 2019 semester focusing on the WU-mester 2019 topic of Freedom of Speech and Expression. Each of these classes examines the topic from the point of view of a particular discipline or disciplines.

 MW 1:00- 3:45 PM. Taught by Professor Ben Willis

Students will learn how textiles have been used to communicate for centuries.  Utilizing both sewing machines and hand stitching techniques, students will be creating public art with flags, quilts, wearables, and fabric images. 

Tue. 5:30–8:00 PM. Taught by Professor Kara Kendall-Morwick

This course explores the issue of censorship in literature and film. Numerous books and films—including many celebrated classics—have been banned, challenged, or censored for a broad range of purposes, from silencing dissent to protecting vulnerable or marginalized groups from harm. In this class, we will read/view representative examples of books and films that have been subject to such restrictions for what censors have variously regarded as their deviant, blasphemous, dangerous, obscene, inappropriate, or harmful content. Through analysis of these works and relevant theoretical, historical, and cultural contexts, we will explore how censorship has served to construct and reinforce cultural norms and power structures, as well as to suppress and delegitimize certain ideas and identities. We will also consider whether, why, and in what contexts censorship (or practices that some regard as censorship, such as “trigger warnings” in college syllabi) is ever warranted. Class meetings will center on discussion of course readings and in-class viewing and discussion of several films. Students taking the course for Honors or 300-level credit will read additional theoretical and critical perspectives and will conduct a research project focusing on a particular book or film or an issue related to censorship.

TR 1–2:15PM. Taught by Professor Tom Prasch

The era of Britain's Civil Wars (1640-60) was a rich period for the working out of ideas of natural rights, often in the context of social-contract theories of the state. From John Milton's "Areopagitica" (1644), the essay that called for the end of censorship because truth could only emerge out of the marketplace of ideas, or Milton's "Tenure of Kings and Magistrates" (1649), where he argued the justice of overthrowing and executing a king who had become tyrannical, or the Leveller debates in the New Model Army (1647), which included arguments for universal male suffrage as well as the protection of "native rights," to "Digger" Gerrard Winstanley's "Law of Freedom" (1652) which again asserts "natural rights" (while arguing for a Bible-based communistic redistribution of wealth) and James Harrington, whose "Oceana" (1656) frames "common rights" derived from nature. These rich debates, largely silenced by the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, would resume again in the wake of the Glorious Revolution near the century's end, when John Locke would crystallize the notion of "inalienable rights" (that phrase Thomas Jefferson adopted as his own) in his own take on the social contract, "Two treatises on civil government" (1690). The course will explore the developing discourse around rights through these primary sources and in the context of Britain's struggles of the seventeenth century. 

MWF 9–9:50 AM. Taught by Professor Alan Bearman

This course will examine the history of the separation of church and state that is central to the American experience. The course format is seminar style with the expectation that students will complete a significant research essay.

TR 2:30–3:45 PM. Taught by Professor Justin Moss

Being committed to the freedom of speech is a moral and political ideal for citizens in a modern liberal democratic society that is both desirable and challenging. We can easily appreciate the value of being able to speak our mind without fear of persecution, but nearly everyone can think of examples of speech that they do not agree with and that they would like to hear less of, perhaps because it is harmful or offensive. This course will examine what it means to be committed to the freedom of speech, and to consider what limits, if any, may be placed on the freedom of speech. We will discuss criticisms of free speech and arguments in support of censorship, classic defenses of free speech, and various other possible sources of limits on speech, such as pornography, hate speech, political protest, and the need to create a diverse and welcoming learning environment on a college campus. Taught by Professor Justin Moss

From highly charged debates about NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem to mounting pressure on social media giants to stern the tide of fake news and online harassment, questions surrounding freedom of speech and expression have risen to the top of our national consciousness. This colloquium seeks proposals from faculty across the university for projects that explore the nature, purpose, history, benefits, and consequences of freedom of speech and expression from a variety of disciplinary perspectives.

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