Winter 2019 Sessions

Identity and Justice

American-Arab and French Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Sex, Religion and Immigration
Each class is an opportunity to learn through thought-provoking presentations, readings and group discussions focusing on identity and justice:
  • Are universal rights and justice being advanced or threatened by the current explosion of identities—sexual, religious and nationalistic?
  • Is the proliferation of multicultural identities liberating or leading to tribalism and a “clash of civilization?”
  • How do we arbitrate between competing rights and identities, such as religious freedom, free speech and civic equality?
Teacher: Anne Protopappas
January 24-March 14 (8 weeks)
Thursdays, 9 to 11 AM or 6:30 to 8:30 PM
Register Here

The Future of Freedom of Expression

How Far Is Too Far and Who Decides?
This multimedia course on freedom of expression will focus on French-Arab-American cross-cultural perspectives. Class discussions will consider the multifaceted challenges to freedom of expression in the context of social media, “hate speech,” terrorist attacks and multiform censorship in the aftermath of the 2016 American and French elections and competition to redefine what constitutes “free speech,” protest and “civility.” The class will explore questions including:
  • Can humor still serve as a safe space for social critique?
  • What is the cost of being critical or even inquisitive of issues deemed taboo?
  • What does “too far” mean for free speech?
Teacher: Anne Protopappas
January 22-March 12 (8 weeks)
Tuesdays, 9 to 11 AM or 6:30 to 8:30 PM
Register Here

Fees and Class Size

$530 for Spence community members (parents/guardians, alumnae, faculty, staff, parents of Spence alumnae)
$580 for non-Spence participants

Class size is limited to 20 students, and a minimum of four students is required for the class to be offered. 

Winter Registration Deadline

January 11, 2019

Register for winter and spring term courses together for a discounted price. See below for spring course descriptions. 

Spring 2019 Sessions

Identity and Justice

Wounded Memories: The Shaping of Historical Consciousness, Contested Public Memory and National Identity in the U. S., France and Arab countries, formerly French colonies

What happens when national identity is constructed around representations of divisiveness rather than symbols of togetherness? The final part of this course will explore potential tensions between post-colonial and post-slavery memories and the commemoration of institutional and official history as well as the rippling effects of major critical juncture and traumatic historical events. It will conclude with the sharing personal narratives and family memories as a collective project. 

Teacher: Anne Protopappas
April 4-June 7 (10 weeks)
Thursdays, 9 to 11 a.m. or 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Freedom of Expression, Part III

Protecting the "Speech that we Hate" or Protecting "Hate Speech"?

The series of events that has taken place as reported in the news has made freedom of expression and the issue of “how far is too far” and “what keeps us safe” more pressing and critical than ever. Particularly relevant in this context is the cross-cultural comparison with the French legal tradition and culture grounded in a governmental regulatory model of hate speech and historical truth through memory laws.
Class discussions will examine the following topics, in light of the most recent provocative literature and documentaries: 
  • Facts, faith, opinion trust and “post-truth:” The Enlightenment and French post-modern theory.
  • The Gawker case and shifting definitions of “newsworthiness,” defamation and privacy laws, the public “right to know,” and the status of journalists’ sources, leakers, and whistle blowers.
  • Title IX, and VII, the Google case, Charlottesville, and debates within the ACLU: the protection of unwelcome points of view vs. respect for gender, ethnic and racial identity.  
  • Artistic, intellectual and academic freedom and censorship: Political satire, claims of cultural appropriation involving the Whitney Biennale and other museum controversies, and issues of dis-invitations from campuses and other institutions.  
  • Sport’s contests, allegiance to national symbols and free speech: The case of France and the NFL controversy in the U.S.
  • National sovereignty and international responses to the spread of hate speech and false rumors on social media: who should arbitrate, the government vs corporate interests?  
  • The hotly contested debate on public memory and the display of historical references and commemoration in shaping national narratives, consciousness and identity. 
Teacher: Anne Protopappas
April 2-June 4 (10 weeks)
Tuesdays, 9 to 11 a.m. or 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.