Society, Culture, and Information: Can We Have a Fourth Amendment Right to Privacy in a National Security State?

Course Number: ENGL 148RP
Prerequisites: Check on GOLD
General Education Areas Fulfilled: Check on GOLD
Catalog Course Entry: ENGL 148AA-ZZ
Quarter: Winter 2015
Instructor: Warner, William
Day(s): TR
Time: 11:00 AM – 12:15 PM
Location: SH 1415

The revelations by Edward Snowden regarding illegal NSA surveillance of American citizens have thrown the issue of privacy into the foreground of public discourse. What is privacy? Is it one of the main ways we secure and protect our self and home? How does the law protect privacy as a right? When should the state compromise the privacy of some in the interests of national security? How is privacy impacted by new technologies, like the telephone, the video camera, and the Internet (e.g. Facebook privacy settings)?  We will set these questions in an historical and public policy framework by studying a broad range of literature, law, and public debate. This will include the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution, Justice Brandeis on “the right to be left alone;” the case of Edward Snowden, and novels (from Jane Austen to Orwell’s 1984 to The Circle—a dystopian novel about Google).

Assignments: 2 papers, a media remix presentation and a late midterm on the reading.