The Reading Lab :: Free Speech & Activism (SPRING 2021)
COURSE DESCRIPTION (Begins April 9, 2021)
Aside from freedom of speech, what are other values that Americans have held historically and continue to hold today? Do we value safety? Do we value protection from harm? Do we value regulation of speech? Do we value the marketplace of ideas? Can all that we value coexist or are they always in competition, requiring one value or more to have to yield to another value?
Do and/or should activists & artists have the freedom to combat perceived destructive speech by those in power through efforts that could silence, and punish? Is such freedom increasingly compelling to consider, particularly in light of the new kinds of destruction being perpetuated within our current digital age?
Welcome to The Reading Lab: a special online course where together we will read selected book(s) along with well-curated articles, as we examine these questions and more. We will review the evolution of Free Speech in America and its relationship to activism. We will contemplate the many questions surrounding the fragile lines that demarcate speech from thought from ideas from actions. Although we may not come up with definitive answers to questions, we will be able to move beyond dead-end discussions as we excavate thoughts that lead to more satisfying conversations about the relevance of speech in our lives.
This online course will be conducted using two platforms: 1) a private Facebook Group and 2) Zoom meetings. Every Monday, we will upload onto the FB group: required reading, Live Video Lectures, and a "Letter to Students" organized into 6 Units as follows:
UNIT 1: The New Censorship
UNIT 2: Why is Free Speech Important
UNIT 3: Nullius in Verba
UNIT 4: Hate Speech
UNIT 5: Cans and Can'ts
UNIT 6: Moving Forward
The lectures can be viewed in the moment on FB (every Monday at 2PM (PST)) or can be viewed at a different time as the lectures will live and stay on that platform without an expiration date.
Every Friday, participants will be asked to respond to each unit's lecture and readings in the form of a "Letter to the Instructor" which references the lecture and readings. Each participant will be expected to write a total of 6 letters.
On Fridays, participants will be asked to be log in and be present for a Zoom meeting discussion (at 5PM (PST)). We will recruit a volunteers to read their Letter to the Instructor for that week and ask the volunteers to facilitate a discussion with the other participants for the duration of the zoom call.
The letters are expected to be thoughtfully composed without leaning on cliches so to inspire high quality, honest interaction among group members.
This course is not a "forever" class where you return to it a year later to do the projects. It is an "in the now" class where we interact with one another in the present moment to digest content together, and contemplate ideas together. There will be some flexibility so that if you fall behind, you can always review and catch up. For example, if you are unable to watch a LIVE Video Lecture when it happens, you can still watch it in the Facebook Group at a later time so that you have everything you need to do the writing assignment. But you won't have an endless amount of time because we will continue to move through each unit week to week.
- Once you enroll, you will be invited into the Facebook group.
- The very first meeting on Friday, April 9, 2021 will be on zoom and will be a time for a getting-to-know you exercise. After that, we will ease into a Monday/Friday schedule until the course is over.
- Once you are in the group, you will be given the title of the books that you need to get before the course begins on April 9, 2021. All other curated articles will be provided in the form of a PDF or a link.
- There will also be podcasts and/or videos from YouTube that you will be asked to listen/watch.
- Readings for the first two units will be the heaviest. So if you are able to get through those first two units, you'll notice that you get into a good rhythm thereafter for the rest of the units.
- The biggest ground rule for this course will be to interact with respect while pursuing robust discussions based on curiosity and scholarship. In other words, we won't be afraid to question and delve into matters, but we will do so with respect and dignity.
- Though this is a modified university course, there will be no official university credit offered.
- Office Hours: Throughout the course if you would like the opportunity to discuss something on a one-to-one basis, we can coordinate a time to do a private FaceTime conversation. This will be available two times for each participant for the duration of the entire course.
- To preserve the quality of our discussions, enrollment will be limited.
- The first meeting will begin Friday, April 9, 2021
Thank you for your voice, ideas, creativity & activism,
See you in class!
University of California, Irvine
Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania