Section 1: Tuesday and Thursday 2:00-3:15 PM
Topic: Freedom of Speech in the 21st Century
Professor: Mike Donnelly
“Freedom of Speech” is a major element of the cultural context in which we live, think, work, and write. Indeed, it is often understood, in U.S. cultural and political discourse, as the cornerstone of democracy. In popular discussion, this relationship is typically framed as a simple contest between liberal champions of free speech and the conservative forces of censorship. But the issue is a great deal more complex, rooted in a web of cultural assumptions and social norms. Now, perhaps more than ever before, the question of “free speech” should concern us all, particularly those who love and teach in English Studies (rhetoric, literature, and writing), or who aspire to be writers themselves.
In this course, we will explore definitions of freedom of speech and their various relationships to life in a democratic society, the arts and literature, and public discourse. We will read and discuss both scholarly and popular treatments of free speech, as well as great works of literature, from critical, aesthetic, and rhetorical perspectives. Each student will propose and create their own semester-long research project, in accordance with their specific area of interest.