Law in Contemporary Society

Professor Eben Moglen
Columbia Law School, Spring 2018


On Thursday, 22 February we will conclude our discussion of Thurman Arnold's Folklore of Capitalism. For Friday, 23 February, please read "All Great Problems Come from the Streets," from Lawyerland.


Your first essays will be due at close of business Thursday, March 1. Please see FirstEssay for instructions and a template.


My office hours in spring 2018 are Wednesdays 3:50-5:50pm and Fridays 9:30-11:30am and 3-5pm (usually reserved for 1L students), in JGH 642. If you need to see me but cannot make office hours, please email moglen@columbia.edu for an appointment, or consult my assistant, Michael Weholt, at 212-461-1905.


On the Radar

Thomas B. Edsall, Why Is It So Hard for Democracy to Deal With Inequality?, New York Times, February 15, 2018

Ian Sample, Creative thought has a pattern of its own, brain activity scans reveal, The Guardian, January 16, 2018

Adam M. Enders and Jamil S. Scott, White racial resentment has been gaining political power for decades, Washington Post, January 15, 2018

Sam Roberts, E. Clinton Bamberger, Lawyer With a ‘Fire for Justice,’ Is Dead at 90, New York Times, February 17, 2017

Claire Cain Miller, Republican Men Say It’s a Better Time to Be a Woman Than a Man, New York Times, January 17, 2017

Maggie Haberman and Nicholas Confessore, Giuliani: Obama Had a White Mother So I'm Not a Racist, New York Times, February 19, 2015


A Word on Technology Old and New About the Word

This course is centered in the experience of classroom dialogue. Everything we read and write will be intended to help us understand better what we learn from listening to one another. I say "listening," because in a conversation with so many voices, we're all going to be listening much more than we are talking. So this is an extended exercise in active listening.

It turns out that wiki is a very good medium for active listeners. Below you will find an introduction to this particular wiki, or TWiki, where you can learn as much or as little about how this technology works as you want.

For now, the most important thing is just that any page of the wiki has an edit button, and your work in the course consists of writings that we will collaboratively produce here. You can make new pages, edit existing pages, attach files to any page, add links, leave comments in the comment boxes--whatever in your opinion adds to a richer dialog. During the semester I will assign writing exercises, which will also be posted here. All of everyone's work contributes to a larger and more informative whole, which is what our conversation is informed by, and helps us to understand. This is a law school course, so one cannot prevent altogether the stupidity of grades.

Please begin by registering. I look forward to seeing you at our first meeting.

Introduction to the LawContempSoc Web

The LawContempSoc site is a collaborative class space built on Twiki [twiki.org], a free software wiki system. If this is your first time using a wiki for a long term project, or first time using a wiki at all, you might want to take a minute and look around this site. Every page has a history: all the versions it has accumulated through each person's edits. Use the "History" button at the top of each page to explore that history. When we edit a page, using the "Edit" button, the old version is still part of the history, so editing is additive, not destructive. If you see something on the page that you don't know how to create in a wiki, take a look at the text that produced it using the "Raw" button at the top of each page, and feel free to try anything out in the Sandbox.

All of the Twiki documentation is also right at hand. Follow the TWiki link in the sidebar. There are a number of good tutorials and helpful FAQs there explaining the basics of what a wiki does, how to use Twiki, and how to format text.

From TWiki's point of view, this course, Law in Contemporary Society, is one "web." There are other webs here: the sandbox for trying wiki experiments, for example, and my other courses, etc. You're welcome to look around in those webs too, of course. Below are some useful tools for dealing with this particular web of ours. You can see the list of recent changes, and you can arrange to be notified of changes, either by email or by RSS feed. I would strongly recommend that you sign up for one or another form of notification; if not, it is your responsibility to keep abreast of the changes yourself.

LawContempSoc Web Utilities