Writing Seminars: Sedition and Dissent

What do we risk when we speak out against the state?  If a government or institutional authority can declare anything it doesn’t like to be seditious, is speech really free?  Modern institutions, from governments to corporations to universities, have adopted “sedition” as a term of disapprobation against subjects, workers, and members who engage in protest.  How does the need for a law against speech that incites social and political upheaval square with free speech values and First Amendment rights?  Through contemporary theorists and historical authors, we will consider how radical speech has been punished and restricted over time.  Our conversations will expand into topics as diverse as the ethics of protest, the necessity of investigative journalism, and the consequences – like charges of treason – that make “free speech” such a precarious category.  We will ask who has the right to speak freely, whether speech can constitute a kind of action, and how these thorny issues have been translated into our current political moment.  We will look at how this topic has been treated through a range of lenses: literary critical, historical, legal, political.  And we will ask ourselves how these questions have been mapped onto the recent explosion of free speech debates across college campuses nationwide.


Students who wish to enroll in this seminar should participate in online preregistration, which opens at 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday, August 23 and closes promptly at 5:00 p.m. on Monday, August 28, 2017.

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MW 2:30pm-3:45pm