Law and Society through the Cinematic Frame





Ofrit Liviatan (Department of Government)
Freshman Seminar 40E           4 credits (spring term)         Enrollment:  Limited to 12

In this seminar, we will explore the interaction of law and society using the lens of film. The cinematic experience has become a key site through which the public understanding of law is produced, debated, and influenced. Driven first and foremost by market and audience considerations, law-related films often inject drama, contentious dimensions, and even misrepresentations into the portrayal of real events. Nonetheless, by raising awareness about legal themes that pervade the plot, these films offer valuable insights toward discovering social scientific perspectives on the manner in which law functions in everyday life. Hence, the seminar will not focus on legal doctrine or teach you the fundamentals of the legal profession. Rather, using films and socio-legal scholarship as frameworks for discussion, we will study law’s working in relation to the social, political, economic, and cultural environments in which it operates. Central thematic topics to be discussed include: the relationship between law, justice, and morality; how does law intervene in social relations and whether it is over-utilized as part of these relations; the dynamics between law and social change; is access to the legal process equal to everyone; and the function of law in deeply divided societies.

Note: Film viewing will occur outside class as part of your weekly preparation for the seminar.


See also: Spring 2023