Judith A. Miller and Students Investigate “Fake News” in First Year Seminar


Student Jeffrey Gao and associate professor of history Judith Miller. From Emory Photo/Video. 

Associate Professor Judith A. Miller is teaching a first-year seminar this spring titled “Fake News.” The Emory News Center’s Maureen McGavin describes the class as investigating “examples of fake news, conspiracy theories, hoaxes, biased stories and wrongful convictions, in the U.S. and in other countries, as well as discussions of how the falsehoods took hold and were eventually debunked.” Read the Emory News Center’s profile of the course, “‘Fake News’ class helps students learn to research and identify false information,” in addition to the full course description below.

“Fake news, hoaxes, “truthiness,” lies, spin rooms, bots, leaks, deniers, and propaganda: These phenomena have shaken the world in the recent years. Fake news has become important part of our daily political culture, whether in the United States or elsewhere around the globe. Elections and public policy have been influenced by them. Our course will delve into several historical cases of hoaxes, history “deniers,” and media exploitation before turning to the recent past and even daily events in the US and elsewhere. What dynamics do those examples reveal that can illuminate the contemporary world? Then we will explore the place of social media such as Twitter and Facebook, as well as darker parts of the web, in purveying both accurate and false information. For instance, how do “fake news” authors use language, music, and images to make their ideas more persuasive? How has technology increased the power of “fake news”? Why have certain kinds of societies been more or less vulnerable to propaganda? How have courts understood the principles of “free expression,” “burden of proof,” and a “free press”? How have politicians and journalists contributed to and struggled with the recent intensifying “fake news” phenomenon? We will work closely with Woodruff librarians as we evaluate evidence: How do historians weigh claims and sources? Are there even clear red flags in our media-saturated world? How can historical examples help us sort out these questions? Each student will develop a case study of an incident–understood broadly, anything from political propaganda anywhere in the world, to allegations of wrongful conviction or sexual assault, to history deniers, as just a few examples–that takes up these issues.”

Emory is New and “Appropriate” Home for Correspondence of Novelist Harper Lee

Emory University’s Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library has acquired a collection of correspondence and memorabilia of author Harper Lee. The previous owner of the collection, Paul R. Kennerson, sought to facilitate the acquisition after meeting with Joseph Crespino, Jimmy Carter Professor of History. Crespino worked with Kennerson in the course of research for his newest book, Atticus Finch: The Biography, to be released in early April. Kennerson explained the logic of the decision: “These letters complement the research being done by Joe Crespino so perfectly that I was taken with the fit of it and was highly impressed with other work being done at Emory.” Read more about the acquisition in the article by Emory News Center’s Elaine Justice, “Emory acquires letters by author Harper Lee.”