Course number: LAW 3980
This course surveys selected issues involving sexual work, performances, expression and the criminal law. The main focus of the course is on the development of obscenity and indecency laws, prostitution-related laws, voyeurism laws, artistic expression, revenge pornography, cyber sexual crimes, bestiality laws, campus sexual regulation and hateful sexual speech. Study of these topic areas is based on a doctrinal, socio-legal and anthropological history of sexual regulation beginning in ancient Pompeii and leading to assessment of law in modern day Canada. The course thus explores theories underpinning freedom of expression, equality and liberty. The course engages doctrinal issues in criminal law, constitutional law, tort law and to a certain extent, jurisprudence and the philosophies inherent in law and society approaches.
The course does not consider directly the law of sexual assault since the law of sexual assault is dealt with in other law school offerings.
This course contains strong sexual content, both in print and in film. The discussions, readings and visual representations may be disturbing to some students. In particular language with strong sexual content may be studied. The assigned documentary we will be showing (or viewing at home) has adult content and depicts graphic (though legal) displays of sexuality and nudity.
The primary method of instruction for this class is a seminar format. The course will be conducted through a combination of presentations & discussions led by students including student discussion/presentations, and small group discussions. Participation (which includes attendance and active engagement) is essential to the success of this course. Students are expected to come to class prepared to discuss the assigned readings in a thorough and comprehensive manner.
Proposed Assessment (Subject to Approval by Academic Affairs and Law Faculty Council)
Your overall grade for the course will be comprised of these components:
- 10% Participation: in-class participation, attendance (attendance is mandatory) and positive engagement (demonstration of knowledge and reflection on assigned readings).
- 60%: Final Take Home Memorandum/Paper Assignment (7500 words max; due by 11:59PM on the last day of law school lectures):
The Assignment will consist of two options of which you can choose one:
First Option – A senior partner or Crown asks you to write a traditional memorandum with fact scenario to be assigned later in the term (TBD).
Second Option – A senior partner or Crown is interested in a topic on sexual expression, regulation and conduct and the law and has asked you to write a perspectives paper exploring a topic of interest to you that engages those themes.
Bonus Marks Opportunities (up to 5 percent): Any student who submits five submissions of about 1000 words each to Robsoncrim.com legal blawg site is similarly entitled to a five percent bonus or one percent bonus per blawg up to five percent. Blawgs must be submitted by the last day of class in the Winter, by 11:59PM of that day
Required Cases and Scholarly Articles: Schedule of readings is on UMLearn (about 50 articles and cases)
Required Films: Pornography: The Secret History of Civilisation – a six-part series on the history of pornography, Bailey and Barbato (Producers) 2006.
Required Reader: Jochelson and Kramar. Sex and the Supreme Court: Obscenity and Indecency Laws in Canada. (Manitoba and New Brunswick: Fernwood 2011)
Criminal Code, RSC 1985, c C-46 available online at:
Students should also obtain copies of the Criminal Code, Constitution Acts 1867, and 1982 are accessible on the Internet.
Additional assigned readings will be available online through www.canlii.org, Westlaw, or through electronic copies that I will be uploading onto UMLearn.
INSTRUCTOR: Richard Jochelson