Contemporary Threats to Free Expression

A Symposium for College Professors

May 1-2, 2009

Capital Community College in Hartford, Connecticut


Speaker Bios

     Francis G. Couvares E. Dwight Salmon Professor of History and American Studies, Amherst College
     Christopher M. Finan President, American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression
     Martin B. Margulies Professor Emeritus and Adjunct Professor of Law, Quinnipiac University School of Law
     Svetlana Mintcheva Director of Programs, National Coalition Against Censorship
     Alan Neigher Byelas & Neigher
     John Palfrey Henry N. Ess Professor of Law and Vice Dean for Library and Information Resources, Harvard Law School
     Nadine Strossen Professor of Law; President, American Civil Liberties Union (1991-2008)


Francis G. Couvares
E. Dwight Salmon Professor of History and American Studies, Amherst College

Francis G. Couvares is the E. Dwight Salmon Professor of History and American Studies at Amherst College. He received his MA (1974) and Ph.D. (1980) in History and from the University of Michigan, and his BA (1969) in History from the University of Pittsburgh. Professor Couvares is a member of the Associated Five College Graduate History Faculty (1991—present).

Professor Couvares is the recipient of many awards and honors, including several Amherst College Research Awards (2002-03, 1998-99, 1989-90) and the J. Paul Getty Trust grant to support individual research connected on cross-cultural issues of visual representation and censorship (1992-1994). He is the co-editor and co-author of Interpretations of American History: Patterns and Perspectives, 8th ed. (Bedford, 2008) and 7th ed. (2000) and is editor and contributor to Movie Censorship and American Culture, 2nd ed. (U of Mass Press, 2006). Other publications include book reviews in American Historical Review, Journal of American Studies, Film Quarterly, Labor History, Journal of American History, History, and The Historian; the entry on “Censorship,” in Oxford Companion to United States History (Oxford UP, 2001); and “The Good Censor: Race, Sex and Censorship in the Early Cinema” in Yale Journal of Criticism (Fall 1994).

Professor Couvares’ public speaking engagements include lectures and panel discussions at, among many others, the American Studies Association Conference, Central European University in Budapest, Dartmouth College, Organization of American Historians, University of Munich, Smith College, the Warren Center and Divinity School at Harvard University, and Yale University. Professor Couvares was the educational director for the Institute for Training & Development (ITD) at the American Studies Institute for International Secondary School Teachers in Amherst, MA (2002-2008), and has served as the program director for the Fulbright Summer Institute for the Study of the United States (2004-2008). He was the historical consultant and on-screen commentator in “Hollywood Censored,” a part of CultureShock, the WGBH documentary on the history of the arts and censorship (PBS, February 2000), and also the co-director and faculty leader at the National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute for Teachers (summer 1990).

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Christopher M. Finan
President, American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression

Christopher M. Finan is president of American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, which was established by the American Booksellers Association in 1990 to defend the First Amendment rights of booksellers and their customers. Mr. Finan has been involved in the fight against censorship since 1982. He is chairman of the board of the Media Coalition, past chairman of the board directors of the National Coalition Against Censorship and a trustee of the Freedom to Read Foundation.

As a historian and free speech advocate Finan speaks frequently on current First Amendment issues as well as the history of free speech in the United States. A native of Cleveland, Finan is a graduate of Antioch College. After working as a newspaper reporter, he studied American history at Columbia University, where he received his Ph.D. in 1992. His most recent book is From the Palmer Raids to the Patriot Act: A History of the Fight for Free Speech in America (Beacon Press, 2007), which won the American Library Association’s Eli M. Oboler Memorial Award for the best published book on intellectual freedom. For the past two years, he has taught a course on the history of free speech at Williams College. His articles have appeared in Index on Censorship, the Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom, Playboy and the Journal of Urban History. His first book was Alfred E. Smith: The Happy Warrior (Hill & Wang, 2002). He is a contributor to the "Encyclopedia of New York City."

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Martin B. Margulies
Professor Emeritus and Adjunct Professor of Law, Quinnipiac University School of Law

Martin Margulies is a Professor Emeritus and Adjunct Professor of Law at Quinnipiac University (formerly University of Bridgeport) School of Law. Prior to this, he was Professor of Law (1977-2005), Neil H. Cogan Public Service Professor of Law (1997-1999), and Hersher Professor of Law (1977-92). Professor Margulies has published approximately two dozen law journal articles, mostly on federal or Connecticut constitutional speech issues. His subjects include federal constitutional law, First Amendment law, Connecticut constitutional law, and criminal law. Other publications include The Battle of Prestonpans 1745 (Tempus/History Press 2007), The Early Life of Sean O’Casey (Dolmen Press 1970), and related book reviews and articles. Professor Margulies studied law at Columbia (1961, LL.B – equivalent to J.D), Harvard (1964, LL.M), New York University (1966), and legal history at University College, Dublin (1964-65).

Professor Margulies served on the Board of Directors for the Center For First Amendment Rights from 1994-2008, the National Board of Directors for the ACLU from 1987-94, and the Board of Directors for the ACLU of CT from 1983-94. He is listed in First Amendment Section of Best Lawyers In America (Woodward-White, 2005 –) and in Who’s Who in America (Martindale-Hubbell, 1991 –). He is also awarded “Professor of the Year” from the University of Bridgeport School of Law in 1986 and 1987.

Professor Margulies has served as direct counsel or amicus in numerous cases, mostly involving speech rights under federal or state constitutions. Recent examples include: Doninger v. Neihoff, 527 F.3d 41 (2d Cir. 2008) (amicus) (student internet speech rights); Kerrigan v. Commissioner, 289 Conn. 135 (2008) (amicus) (gay marriage); and United Food and Commercial Workers Union v. Crystal Mall, 270 Conn. 261 (2004) (amicus).

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Svetlana Mintcheva
Director of Programs, National Coalition Against Censorship

Svetlana Mintcheva is the director of programs at the National Coalition Against Censorship, a 35-year old alliance of non-profit organizations, including artistic, religious, educational, labor, and civil liberties groups. She is the founding director of NCAC’s Arts Advocacy Program, the only national initiative devoted to the arts and free expression today.

Since the creation of the Program in 2000, Mintcheva has been directly involved in many local and national arts controversies. Drawing on her singular perspective on the state of creative freedom in the U.S., she has written on emerging trends in censorship, organized public discussions and mobilized support for individual artists. She initiated the online projects Art Now: Art After September 11, which evolved into The Patriotism of Dissent: Artists Responding to the Political Present; and Law, Art and Free Expression, a database of legal case summaries for the general public. She wrote and produced The Price of Freedom is Eternal Vigilance, a video overview on art censorship in the 20th century, which premiered at the gallery of Georgia State University in Atlanta. Mintcheva is the co-editor of Censoring Culture: Contemporary Threats to Free Expression (The New Press, 2006). She curated the 2007 exhibition Filth, Treason, Blasphemy?: Museums and Censorship, at the McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum in Chicago, IL and conceived Exposing the Censor Within, a traveling interactive public art installation, which opened in California in March of 2007. Most recently, she launched the Virtual Coalition Against Censorship, a Second Life group, which hosts exhibitions and discussions about free speech in virtual worlds.

An academic turned activist, Mintcheva has taught literature and critical theory at the University of Sofia, Bulgaria and at Duke University, Durham, NC from which she received her Ph.D. in critical theory in 1999. Her academic research and writing focused on postmodern literature and aesthetic provocations.

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Alan Neigher
Byelas & Neigher

Alan Neigher has been a principal in the Westport firm of Byelas & Neigher since 1980. A graduate of Colby College and Boston College Law School, he specializes in media, entertainment, first amendment and trade regulation law. He has an AV (highest) Martindale-Hubbell rating, and is listed in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers (first amendment) as well as The Best Lawyers in America, Connecticut Super Lawyers and New England Super Lawyers (intellectual property).

Mr. Neigher taught a course in Communications Law at U.B. Law School from 1977-1985. He is a member of the adjunct faculty of Fairfield University, where he teaches a course in law and ethics. He has been a panelist on media law at the International Television Association in New York, the New England Conference on Media & Law in Boston, and at numerous bar association and press association seminars. He has appeared on Lou Dobbs’ Nightly broadcast on CNN, and has been a guest on WNPR Radio.

Mr. Neigher represents over thirty published authors of fiction and non-fiction books. He has acted as counsel to a number of film producers. His media clients have included The Connecticut Post, Connecticut Magazine, Cablevision News 12, WTNH-Channel 8 (New Haven), WVIT-CHANNEL 30 (Hartford), Rhode Island Monthly, The Yale Alumni Magazine and Brooks Newspapers. He defends libel, privacy, copyright and tort claims on behalf of several insurance clients. He has extensive experience in representing news organizations in access, FOIA and newsroom subpoena cases.

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John Palfrey
Henry N. Ess Professor of Law and Vice Dean for Library and Information Resources, Harvard Law School

John Palfrey is Henry N. Ess Professor of Law and Vice Dean for Library and Information Resources at Harvard Law School. He is the co-author of Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives (Basic Books, 2008) and Access Denied: The Practice and Politics of Internet Filtering (MIT Press, 2008). His research and teaching is focused on Internet law, intellectual property, and international law. He practiced intellectual property and corporate law at the law firm of Ropes & Gray. He is a faculty co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. Outside of Harvard Law School, he is a Venture Executive at Highland Capital Partners and serves on the board of several technology companies and non-profits. John served as a special assistant at the US EPA during the Clinton Administration. He is a graduate of Harvard College, the University of Cambridge, and Harvard Law School. He writes a blog from the Berkman Center at Harvard Law.

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Nadine Strossen
Professor of Law; President, American Civil Liberties Union (1991-2008)

Nadine Strossen has written, lectured, and practiced extensively in the areas of constitutional law, civil liberties, and international human rights. From 1991 through 2008 she served as president of the American Civil Liberties Union, the first woman to head the nation’s largest and oldest civil liberties organization. Professor Strossen retains leadership positions with the ACLU as a member of the National Advisory Council and as Co-Chair of the ACLU’s Campaign for the Future.

In 2005, Professor Strossen was honored by the University of Tulsa College of Law and the Tulsa Law Review, which made her scholarly work the subject of their Fifth Annual Legal Scholarship Symposium titled “Nadine Strossen: Scholar as Activist.” The National Law Journal has twice named Professor Strossen one of “The 100 Most Influential Lawyers in America”; in 1999, Ladies’ Home Journal included her in “America’s 100 Most Important Women”; and in 1998, Vanity Fair Magazine included Professor Strossen in “America’s 200 Most Influential Women.” In 1986, Professor Strossen became one of the first three women to receive the U.S. Jaycees’ “Ten Outstanding Young Americans” Award; she was also the first American woman to win the Jaycees International’s “The Outstanding Young Persons of the World” Award. Other awards include: the “Women of Distinction” award from the Women’s League for Conservative Judaism, the Media Institute’s “Freedom of Speech Award,” the Free Speech Coalition’s “Freedom Isn’t Free Award,” and the National Council of Jewish Women’s “Women Who Dared Award” among many others. Professor Strossen is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Since becoming ACLU President, Professor Strossen has made more than 200 public presentations per year before diverse audiences, including on more than 500 campuses and in many foreign countries. She comments frequently on legal issues in the national media, having appeared on virtually every national news program. She has been a monthly columnist for two Web-zines and a weekly commentator on the Talk America Radio Network. In October 2001, Professor Strossen made her professional theater debut as the guest star in Eve Ensler’s award-winning play, The Vagina Monologues, during a week-long run at the National Theatre in Washington, D.C.

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