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Simpson Center for the Humanities

Fall 2017

HUM 498/POLS499E

Free Speech and Hate Speech

(1 credit, C/NC)

Instructor: Jamie Mayerfeld (Political Science) with Frederick Lawrence, author of Punishing Hate: Bias Crimes Under American Law

Meeting Dates:

  • Tuesday, October 10, 3:30-5 pm
  • Tuesday, October 17, 3:30-5 pm
  • Tuesday, October 24, 3:30-5 pm (with Frederick Lawrence)
  • Tuesday, October 31, 3:30-5 pm
  • Tuesday, November 7, 3:30-5 pm

Sessions meet in Communications 202.

Frederick Lawrence will visit the UW in October 2017. We will use this occassion to study normative controversies relating to freedom of speech. Among the questions we consider: On what grounds, if any, should governments and universities restrict speech? Should they have a right to prohibit hate speech and restrict offensive speech? What is hate speech? Is it morally wrong, and if so, why? Setting aside legal debates, how should we as ordinary citizens and members of a university community respond to hate speech, offensive speech, false speech, or otherwise harmful or worthless speech? To address these questions, we will read philosophical and legal scholarship (including work by Lawrence) and excerpted court opinions. Students will deepen their understanding of the legal, moral, and philosophical controversy regarding hate speech; learn about and critically engage weighty arguments on different sides of the debate; and develop their own well-informed and well-reasoned positions on the questions raised.

Frederick Lawrence is the Secretary and Chief Executive Officer of the Phi Beta Kappa Society and a Visiting Professor of Law & Public Policy at Georgetown University. A leading scholar of civil rights and free speech jurisprudence, Lawrence has served as President of Brandeis University, Dean of the George Washington University Law School, and Visiting Professor and Senior Research Scholar at Yale Law School. He is the author of Punishing Hate: Bias Crimes Under American Law (Harvard University Press, 1999). Lawrence recently testified before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee about free speech, academic freedom, and civility on American college campuses.

Jamie Mayerfeld (Professor, Political Science) is the author of The Promise of Human Rights: Constitutional Government, Democratic Legitimacy, and International Law (2016) and Suffering and Moral Responsibility (1999). Questions? Contact Jamie Mayerfeld (

An add code is required for this course. Please contact Jamie Mayerfeld ( or Rachel Arteaga ( at the Simpson Center) for an add code.

Sponsored by the UW Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, with support from the Simpson Center for the Humanities.

HUM 597A

The Work of Ramzi Fawaz and Comics Scholarship

(1 credit, C/NC)

Time Schedule

Instructor: José Alaniz (Slavic Languages & Literatures) and Tom Foster (English)

Meeting Dates:

Sessions meet in Communications 202 unless otherwise noted.

  • Wednesday, October 18, 2:30-5 pm
  • Wednesday, October 25, 2:30-5 pm
  • Wednesday, November 1, 2:30-5 pm (Communications 322)
  • Thursday, November 2: Students will also attend the first day and keynote presentation of the International Comic Arts Forum at the UW

This course surveys the work of comics scholar Ramzi Fawaz, chiefly through a reading of his book The New Mutants: Superheroes and the Radical Imagination of American Comics (NYU Press, 2016) and related work.We will discuss Fawaz’s application of queer theory and utopianism to superhero comics and other comics genres since the 1960s for how these reflect the emergence and representation of alternative communities in post-war US culture.

The course will serve as preparation Fawaz’s keynote presentation at the International Comic Arts Forum, taking place at the UW in November 2017, and will feature a final session led by Fawaz. Open to undergraduates with permission. Questions? Contact José Alaniz:  

José Alaniz is Associate Professor of Slavic Languages & Literatures, Director of the Disability Studies Program, and affiliate faculty in Comparative History of Ideas, Comparative Literature, Cinema & Median, and English. He is the author of Comics and History in the Czech Lands (forthcoming), Death, Disability, and the Superhero: The Silver Age and Beyond (2014), and Komiks: Comic Art in Russia (2010).

Tom Foster is Professor of English and the author of The Souls of Cyberfolk: Posthumanism as Vernacular Theory (2005) and Transformations of Domesticity in Modern Women’s Writing:
Homelessness at Home (2002). He has taught courses on superheroes in popular fiction and media and on science fiction and fantasy.

HUM 597B

Missing Pictures: History and Poetic Imagination in the Cinema of Rithy Panh

(1 credit, C/NC)

Time Schedule

Instructor: Jenna Grant (Anthropology)

Meeting Dates

  • November 14, 9:30-11:20 am 
  • November 21, 9:30-11:20 am 
  • November 28, 9:30-11:20 am 
  • December 5, 9:30-12:30 pm: Seminar, screening, and lunch with Rithy Panh
  • December 7, 9:30-11:20 am: Colloquium and screening with Rithy Panh

All sessions meet in Communications 202

“As a filmmaker, you don’t wait for reality; you call it to the camera.” —Rithy Panh

This microseminar frames the October 2017 visit of filmmaker Rithy Panh to the University of Washington as a Walker-Ames Scholar. Panh is known for his innovative practice that includes re-enactments, animation, and improvisation in addition to more traditional techniques of documentary and narrative cinema. His films deal with genocide and its effects, memory, living at the margins of Cambodia's present modernity, and French colonialism in Indochina and in Africa. His 2013 Film The Missing Picture won the Jury prize in Un Certain Regard at Cannes, and was nominated for an Oscar.

Rithy Panh is also an archivist and educator. He co-founded the Bophana Center, which is dedicated to repatriating and preserving film, photography, and audio materials related to Cambodian history.

The microseminar provides the opportunity for Masters and PhD students from multiple disciplines to think with each other and Rithy Panh about key themes in his work. Students are required to read in preparation for seminars; participate in screenings and colloquia during Panh’s visit; and complete a two-page paper or one-minute film. Questions? Contact Jenna Grant (

Jenna Grant is Assistant Professor of Anthropology. Her work focuses on science, technology, and medicine in urban Cambodia and in Southeast Asia borderlands. She is currently writing a book manuscript titled “Seeing Clearly: Medical Imaging and Its Uncertainties in Phnom Penh.” The book, based on more than two years of ethnographic and archival research in Cambodia and France, examines contemporary medical imaging services alongside histories of technology within postcolonial health development projects.