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Culture on Trial: Race, Media & Intellectual Property

ENGL 2935.401
crosslisted as: CIMS 2935, SOCI 2973
TR 5:15-6:44pm
fulfills requirements:
Sector 6: 20th Century Literature of the Standard Major
Elective Seminar of the Standard Major


This course explores the US intellectual property regime’s impact on the production, distribution and consumption of media and art. We will consider intellectual property’s seminal role in the formation of emerging media landscapes including cinema, television, social media, and new streaming platforms. We will also develop an understanding of how the structural commitments of the law — copyright, trademark, and patents — contribute to racial hierarchy, economic inequality, and environmental injustice. Topics include intellectual property’s ability to manage Civil Rights discourse on film, television, and the web; examining how copyright has historically deprived Black artists of control over their works; the role of the “author” in the age of artificial intelligence; and the racial disparities of intellectual property on global ecological crises. By the end of the class, students will come away with historical, theoretical, and practical understandings of how media technology changes the law and how the law has subsequently responded to changes in media technology. This course is affiliated with CWIC (Communication Within the Curriculum).