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PWR 194KTA: Critical Rhetoric: Racism, Misogyny, and the Law

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Through examination of jurisprudential racism and misogyny (and misogyracism), students will learn to dissect the rhetoric of the U.S. judicial branch and the barriers it constructs to equity and inclusion. The gutting of the Voting Rights Act in 2013 by the Supreme Court of the United States is one such example which led to the consequent disenfranchisement of many voters of color. For many citizens who desire a truly representative government, SCOTUS’s decision predicted the collapse of democracy and endorsed White supremacy. The United States of America long deprived men of color and women of every race equal access to justice. The history of housing, employment law, criminal justice, healthcare, and more includes jurisprudence enforcing racist and misogynist U.S. policies and social dynamics. This course empowers students to understand the battle against these forces and the difference between a legal system and a justice system.

In Critical Rhetoric students will learn how to read a case, scrutinize court briefings, and contextualize bias.

Major assignments for this course include:

  • Text of the Week: until the Final Project, students will collaborate to deliver weekly summaries about assigned texts. For example, students may present the Trump v. Hawaii decision, noting its failure to in fact overrule Korematsu v. U.S. and the implications for non-White citizens and aspiring residents.
  • Community Engagement: students will reach out individually to a non-profit legal justice organization of their choosing and report to peers about the challenges staff attorneys face in achieving mission goals. For example, a student may contact Bay Area Legal Aid to inquire how statutes protect women of color from domestic violence and any barriers to equitable legal enforcement of those laws.
  • Final Project: students will submit for publication in the public sphere a collaborative text, video, presentation, or combination that shares insights gained over the quarter translated for a lay-audience. For example, students may produce a submission for the American Bar Associations’ Law Day Art Contest, Silver Gavel Awards for Media and the Arts, TED Talk, or New York Times OpDoc.

Prerequisite: WR-1 requirement or the permission of instructor

Grade option: Letter (ABCD/NP)

Course Feature: Science Communication Track. This course does not fulfill the WR-1 or WR-2 Requirement