This course will provide an interdisciplinary learning experience in which students consider the unique and dynamic relationship between law, gender, and race in contemporary popular and political culture. More specifically, students will engage three questions, namely: (1) How does the law generate, reinforce, and, at times, disrupt our gendered and racialized understandings of politics and society? (2) How has the rise in televised court cases and other legal and official proceedings (particularly the introduction of media technology and advanced scientific evidence) altered and/or reflected public perception of the legal system? (3) How has courtroom TV created new “communities of assessment” in the public sphere and enabled different perspectives on and public debate about justice, fact-finding, and the search for truth? In addressing these concerns, the course will integrate scholarship from critical legal studies and critical race theory within the law, political science, public policy, women’s studies, and Black and ethnic studies.
By the end of this course, students should:
- Be able to define racism and sexism and explain how they function in individual and institutional dynamics;
- Be aware of key theories and concepts regarding the operation of race and gender in the production of cultural media, such as television news programming, sitcoms, movies, and advertising;
- Be conversant with key contemporary debates and issues concerning gender, race, and the law such as rape, sexual harassment, domestic abuse/violence, and election coverage; and
- Be familiar with basic legal concepts regarding trial functioning, including, but not limited to, trial psychology/the psychology of persuasion, burdens of proof, legal epistemology and techniques (e.g., opening and closing statements and direct and cross-examinations).