Images form an increasingly important vehicle of communication in the digital era, and the legal field is not exempt from these developments. This course will provide students with tools for critically engaging with the expanding landscape of visual media in public culture, courtrooms and other legal advocacy settings. Through the close consideration of a diverse selection of documentary films, the course will invite students to assess, analyze and seek to understand the visual and cultural contexts through which the meanings and institutions of law are understood, interpreted and constantly re-negotiated in Canada and in the world. Among other questions, the course will consider how documentary films function as forms of visual legal advocacy, and students will receive instruction in how to produce their own short videos. Students will be educated in a variety of styles and techniques of visual legal advocacy. Overall, the course will consider the role that nonfiction film might play in the quest for a more responsive and inclusive legal order, within Canada as well as internationally.
Students will be guided towards the development of critical and generative attitudes to the role and value of the visual in legal advocacy through the assigned films and readings, reflective writing exercises, focused seminar discussion and the planning, shooting and editing of a short documentary. This course will satisfy both Osgoode’s Praxicum and, optionally, the Upper Year writing requirements.