Section 001, Fall 2018
Section Description Provided by Instructor
We live in a visual world. Yet for law, the printed word is foundational. The notion of Ã¢â¬Åblack letter lawÃ¢â¬Â as a set of established rules or principles is thought to go back to a time when legal precepts were inscribed in Blackletter (otherwise known as Gothic) font. Metaphors such as the Ã¢â¬Åletter of the lawÃ¢â¬Â imagine writerly precepts as the ultimate measure of lawÃ¢â¬â¢s implementation. And Ã¢â¬Åreading lawÃ¢â¬Â is the process by which practitioners wereÃ¢â¬âand sometimes still areÃ¢â¬âapprenticed, dating back to times well before there were law schools. This emphasis on Ã¢â¬Åthe bookÃ¢â¬Â in legal culture shapes our notions of what is recognized as legitimate--which claims are sufficiently formed (or formal enough) to be heard by law, and what sort of evidence is deemed admissible in law. But just as the moveable printing press stretched the moral, religious, and governmental ligaments of how civilizations were constituted, so we face a radically new technological revolution, grounded in a massive shift from print to pictograph.
This seminar will focus on how visual media contribute to the construction of legal knowledge as well as our sense of fairness and justice. From amateur videos in police-citizen encounters to CCTV, from selfies to surveillance drones, from biometrics to Google-earth, we live in much too interesting times. With traditional media such as broadsheets in decline and evolving information technology providing creative opportunities for new forms of expression, old debates about censorship, identity, freedom of speech and freedom of the press are informed as never before by questions of privacy and truth, as well as exacerbated by fears of tabloidization and terror. By the same token, social networking has emerged as a force that frequently fragments dominant social and cultural narratives, yet also consolidates powerful idioms and ideologies of its own.
We will ask how knowledge and seeing are linked; and how our gaze is directedÃ¢â¬âwhether by cognitive capacity, social force, or algorithm. We will compare rhetorical conventions in verbal and visual accounts of the same cases. This will include study of the narrative elements of constructing Ã¢â¬ÅsidesÃ¢â¬ÂÃ¢â¬âhow heroes and villains are made, as well as the complexities of truth-telling and neutrality, of incitement and public order. We will discuss the professional ethics of law and media, including the roles and responsibilities of bloggers, photojournalists, filmmakers, cartoonists, graphic artists and citizen-observers. Readings will draw from law, cultural studies, anthropology, the sociology of framing and the philosophy of technology.
Artist Bradley McCallum will co-teach the class with Professor Williams. Founding director of Conjunction Arts, he has served as artist-in-residence for both the NYCLU and the Coalition for the International Criminal Court. McCallumÃ¢â¬â¢s work addresses such themes as state power, migration, social justice, marginalized populations, and civic dialogue.
The course will be graded on class participation (30 percent) and a final paper (70 percent). Class participation includes attendance and participation; in addition you will be required to submit weekly reflections of no more than a page or two, summarizing your thoughts about the reading and posing at least one question for group discussion. The final paper may be on a topic of your choosing, subject to instructorÃ¢â¬â¢s approval; and should be of approximately 20 pages.
MW 1:20-2:40 pm
Method of Evaluation
J.D. Writing Credit
Minor (upon consultation), Major (only upon consultation)
Disclaimer: This is the textbook information that has been entered as of today.
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