Northwestern Events Calendar


Jennifer A. Petersen - "From Voice to Information: A Media History of Speech in the Law"

When: Monday, April 22, 2024
4:30 PM - 6:00 PM CT

Where: University Hall, Hagstrum 201, 1897 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Cost: FREE

Contact: Janet Hundrieser   (847) 491-3525

Group: Science in Human Culture Program - Klopsteg Lecture Series

Category: Lectures & Meetings



Jennifer A. Petersen


"From Voice to Information: A Media History of Speech in the Law"


When we protect freedom of speech, just what forms of expression are included? Do we mean the expression of people engaged in advocacy, art, or entertainment? Or do we include the circulation of artifacts such as money, receipts, and lists? Questions such as these ask for a definition of speech as a legal category. This talk will draw on media theory and legal history to explore the history of this category and its linkage to changes in the media of communication. What was once a category bounded by the human voice, the talk will argue, has become a more abstract, disembodied one centered not on voice but rather on information. To understand how this happened, we need to examine how media technologies and the knowledges associated with them have shaped what we mean by “speech”.


Jennifer A. Petersen researches the implications of media technologies for the law and the historical constitution of emotion and reason in communication research, law, technology and public culture. She has written extensively on hate speech, the First Amendment and media technologies, and the history of media technologies and communication research.  Her current research focuses on the history of conceptions of agency and intelligence in artificial intelligence, and the implications of AI for legal constructions of personhood.

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