CoursesHistory and Theory of Freedom of Expression
COMM 322-301

History and Theory of Freedom of Expression

Every society limits speech in significant ways. What are these limits in the United States, why are these the limits, and are they the ones we want? Explore these topics and more.

Mondays/Wednesdays, 1:45 PM – 3:15 PM

If we were to fashion new laws for speech from scratch in our media-saturated, fake news world, would they be different laws from those we have? The rootedness of free speech in our civic DNA springs from enduring philosophical arguments over what truth and knowledge are, what human nature is like, and what we think society owes to and requires from its members. We explore foundational debates at the core of the First Amendment, the evolving interpretation of the amendment by the Supreme Court, its determined historical challengers, and struggles over its applicability to contemporary controversies. We address strong claims that unfettered speech is central to democratic societies and strong claims that society can be made more democratic by removing discriminatory speech from the public sphere more generally. This is a reading and discussion seminar.

Syllabus

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