Interpreting the United States Constitution

August 27, 2008

For Honors 251, Freedom of Expression®

Anthony Lewis writes on p. xiv of Freedom for the Thought That We Hate:
“When a constitutional provision has no discernible history, as is true of the First Amendment — no meaningful discussion by its authors of what they meant — how do judges begin to build on its words to decide concrete cases?

I would like us to answer and discuss this question via comments to this post. Feel free to post more than once, but please post at least once some of your thoughts on this question. I would also like us to respond and react to each other via the comments.

How are judges to determine for themselves what, for example, the 45 words of the First Amendment mean in specific circumstances, like prayer in public schools, student press freedoms, when and where people can protest? What should guide their interpretations? What approach should they take?


What is culture?

August 26, 2008

For my students in Visual Rhetoric, I want us to crowdsource a definition of “culture.” Secondly, I want us to crowdsource a definition of “visual culture.” (What is crowdsourcing? Think of Wikipedia. It is drawing on the wisdom of the crowds, putting many to the same task for a better result than any one individual could manage on his or her own.)

Here are the groundrules: I want at least one comment from each person taking a stab at each definition, though all are invited to comment more often, reacting to other students’ definitions. Secondly, NO GOOGLING. No outside sourcing OF ANY KIND. These definitions, like culture itself, should come only from us, out of our heads. Your comments should be made to this blog post.

The deadline: Friday morning, 9 a.m., which will give me time to read them and draw some conclusions.

And just a reminder to everyone to bring in on Friday two or three visuals or images you remember, that you will continue to remember, of the millions of images you have been exposed to over your lifetimes. If you can bring a copy or representation of these images, great, but that isn’t required. A memory delivered verbally will suffice.


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