Undergraduate Courses

MCC-UE 1010 - Censorship in American Culture

An upper level course on the topic of censorship in American culture, from the late 19th century to the present. The broader context for our exploration will be the public sphere, understood in two ways: as the classic, liberal ideal-a space for civil, and equitable exchange of ideas and opinions open to all citizens-and in the more contemporary reality-a highly contested space of public discussion, where the boundaries concerning who can participate, what topics are allowed, and how the exchange takes place are drawn and redrawn. The tension between ideal and real forms of public communication plays out in highly charged debates around censorship, which take place in diverse public spaces, including literature, film, theatre, art galleries, the press, the internet, sidewalks, courts, and bars. Because these debates are cultural and legal ones, and are frequently deeply divisive within American society, the goal is for the students to have an enhanced understanding of the historical contexts in which important cultural and legal struggles over censorship took place, and to bring that understanding to bear on contemporary debates about the arts, sexuality, gender, privacy, national security, media technology, and government involvement in the marketplace of ideas and images.