CONTEMPORARY FIRST AMENDMENT ISSUES

FREE SPEECH THEORY IN A COMMERCIAL CULTURE,
THE MEANING OF "DISSENT,"
AND SPEECH RIGHTS IN THE AGE OF ROBOTICS

PROFESSOR SKOVER

FALL 2018

COURSE REQUIREMENTS

This seminar will not be conducted like a typical law school course, but is designed to operate like a graduate school seminar. For those of you unfamiliar with that model, it is important to understand the following:

  1. Fifty percent of your grade in the seminar will turn on your performance in class discussions and fifty percent on your performance on three papers or media projects.  There will be no final examination at the completion of the course.

  2. The ABA mandates class attendance, and the Washington State Bar application requires that a bar candidate disclose any class withdrawal due to non-attendance. Given those demands and the importance of participation in class discussion, you are expected to attend every class session. You are entitled to one excused absence, which must be appropriately documented and which will be accorded for only the most compelling of reasons. A second absence will result in an automatic administrative withdrawal.

  3. In preparation for class discussion, you will be required to prepare brief answers (i.e., one or two paragraphs in length) to the Questions for Discussion and Analysis that accompany Reading Assignments 2 through 11. You will be required to submit these answers at the end of every class session. Although these submissions will not be scored and turned back to you, I will always review them carefully in order to assess the scope and depth of your understanding of the reading materials.

  4. You will be required to submit three papers or media projects during the course of the seminar. During the last seminar session, you will make a presentation to your colleagues on your final paper or media project. A paper should be no fewer than four and no more than five double-spaced typed pages, and the parameters of a media project will be set in consultation with me.

Unlike the common "case note" or "commentary" written for law reviews, a paper or a media project is not to be a merely descriptive account of mass communications theory or related legal doctrines.  Rather, to borrow a somewhat hackneyed term, it is to be a "think piece."  You are to grapple with an idea associated with the readings assigned in the intervening weeks, with no limitations on the originality, creativity, or provocative nature of your insights, except that the parameters of your idea must be articulated in no more than five typed pages or within the parameters set for the media project.

For the first and second papers, you will be required to submit a "prospectus" -- no more than a one-page explanation of your thesis -- at the beginning of the class period one week in advance of the date on which the paper or project is due. Please include your phone number at the top of the page, in order that I might consult with you over any foreseeable problems in the framing or execution of your ideas.

One to two weeks after submission, a paper or project will be graded and returned to you. Only two grades will be given: a plus (plus.gif (1013 bytes)) will indicate excellence (commensurate to a grade of A); a check (WB01372_.gif (406 bytes)) will indicate acceptable performance (commensurate to a grade from B- at the lowest to A- at the highest).  Consultation before composition of the paper or project should prevent it from falling below these standards.

During the week following the return of first paper or project, you will consult with me in my office for no more than one-half hour to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of your submission.  No consultation will be held thereafter, unless you wish to arrange such a meeting.   

You should not be overwhelmed or intimidated by the creative writing or media project requirements of this seminar. My supposition is that you will find the experience -- as you become more adept at it -- to be rewarding and a good deal of fun.

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