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March 09, 2012

Rethinking Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” Fifty Years Later: A Critical Race Perspective on Atticus Finch, Tom Robinson and Maycomb County, Alabama

9:00 a.m.  -  5:30 p.m.

Harper Lee's classic novel "To Kill a Mockingbird" left an indelible impression upon the hearts and minds of many in the early 1960s. Hailed as shifting the consciousness of the nation when it was published more than fifty years ago, the narrative poignantly illuminated intense racial prejudice, as well as the complexity of race relations, oppression, and injustice.

Advancing the discourse surrounding the fiftieth anniversary through the lens of critical race theory, workshop participants will offer an examination of the cultural importance of this work, and what it communicates about law and society more than half a century later.

Academics and practitioners will reflect on the enduring quality of "To Kill a Mockingbird" in relation to modern legal and social issues. Topics include spectacle of race on trial, disparity in incarceration, ethics of indigent defense, race and family, diversity and community, and a character study of Atticus Finch as a role model for justice. "To Kill a Mockingbird" provides an excellent platform to engage important matters of our time.

Program Agenda
Sullivan Hall - Room C-5

9:00 a.m.
Welcome by Dean Mark C. Niles

Morning Kickoff: Why This Matters: Framing Maycomb County and To Kill a Mockingbird (Bryan Stevenson -- via video segment)

9:20 - 10:35 a.m.
Lawyering and the Adversarial System in Context

  • Janet Ainsworth, Law's Seduction and Betrayal: Why Lawyers Misunderstand the Lesson of To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Allison Connelly, Walking Around in his Skin: Atticus Finch and the Sixth Amendment
  • Sean O'Donnell, Prosecutorial Discretion and the Duty to Do Justice: Lessons from To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Judge Mary Yu, A View from the Bench on To Kill a Mockingbird

10:35 - 10:45 a.m.

10:45 - Noon
Atticus Finch - Role Model for Justice?

  • Bryan Adamson, Atticus Finch as Moral Archetype?  Finch as Racial Apologist and Ineffective Counsel
  • Adele Morrison, Atticus Finch. Race Traitor?
  • Dean Mark C. Niles, The Complex Heroism of Atticus Finch
  • Robin Walker Sterling, Atticus Finch and Defense Attorney Nullification

Noon - 1:00 p.m.
Lunch and Keynote Address 
Justice Steven C. González, Washington State Supreme Court

1:10 - 2:25 p.m.
Ties that Bind: Complex Relationships in Maycomb County

  • Camille Nelson, Cal & Atticus: Teasing Out the Thread of Miscegenation in To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Gregory Parks, The Evolution of Interracial Taboo and Law
  • Melynda Price, Whispers in the Dark: Privileged Recognitions in Law and To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Steven Hobbs, The Tribes of Maycomb County: The Continuing Quest to Transcend Our Differences

2:25-2:35 p.m.

2:35 - 3:50 p.m.
The Unspeakable: Silence and Power in To Kill a Mockingbird

  • Frank Rudy Cooper, Moving Beyond the Hegemonic Southern Masculinity?
  • Lisa Daugaard, Meeting Boo Radley
  • Angela Onwuachi-Willig, The Curious Death of Tom Robinson
  • Christopher Rideout, The Invisible Neighbor: Marginalization and Mental Illness in To Kill a Mockingbird

3:50 - 4:00 p.m.

4:00 - 5:15 p.m.
What To Kill a Mockingbird Really Teaches Us About Privilege, Law and Society

  • Charlton Copeland
  • Angelique Davis and Rose Ernst, Racial Spectacles in To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Pamela Taylor, Racism Then - Racism Now: Preserving the Traditions of the Undiscussable 
  • Natasha Martin, Fight Like a Girl? Calpurnia, Scout and the Role of Gender in To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Catherine Smith
  • Kelly Anders, Explorations of Race, Diversity, and Professionalism: A Comparative Analysis of To Kill a Mockingbird and Pinky (audio)

5:15 - 5:30 p.m.
Closing Remarks

5:30 - 6:30 p.m.
Sullivan Hall - Second Floor Gallery


Details of the agenda are subject to change.

Please RSVP at