Is Privacy Dead?

with Katie Fitzpatrick

Today, we often hear that “privacy is dead.” Some blame growing surveillance by governments and by Silicon Valley tech companies, while others blame an increasingly confessional culture, characterized by constant “over-sharing” on social media and on reality television. But today’s post mortems for a lost privacy follow in a long tradition; lawyers, activists, and philosophers have declared the death of privacy over and over again – in the 1890s, the 1960s, the 1990s, and likely every decade in between. In this course, we will read and analyze scholarly research from across the disciplines in order to better understand what privacy is, whether we are losing it, and why it might be worth protecting. Students will be introduced to the scholarly discourse on privacy in fields like history, law, anthropology, and sociology, and will write a research essay considering one aspect of contemporary surveillance or confessional culture.