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'Is There a Right of Self-Defense?'

Posted 10/02/2009
Submitted by Meagan Fazio
Category: Campus Announcements
Joyce Lee Malcolm

Joyce Lee Malcolm

The colloquium on "Civil Liberties in the 21st Century" will continue on Wednesday, Oct. 7, with a talk by legal historian and constitutional scholar Joyce Lee Malcolm, titled "To Heller and Back: Is There a Right of Self-Defense?".

The lecture will take place at 7:30 p.m. in Wilde Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public, but tickets are required. For tickets, please call the University box office at 860.768.4228 or 800.274.8587.

Malcolm's talk is the second event in the "Civil Liberties in the 21st Century Community Conversations Colloquium". The colloquium began on Sept. 23 with a panel discussion on capital punishment in Connecticut. The series will include six invited lectures and panel discussions, to be held throughout the 2009-10 academic year.

Malcolm's talk will focus on District of Columbia v. Heller, a landmark case in which the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Second Amendment to the Constitution protects a citizen's right to possess a firearm for legal purposes, such as self-defense within the home.

Malcolm is a professor of legal history at George Mason University School of Law and a fellow of the Royal Historical Society. She previously served as director of the Division of Research Programs at the National Endowment for the Humanities. Her areas of expertise include constitutional and legal history; constitutional law; the rights of the individual versus the rights of the state; and crime, violence, and public policy.

Malcolm has published scores of scholarly articles, book chapters, and essays, in addition to seven books. Her book, To Keep and Bear Arms: The Origins of an Anglo-American Right (1994), has been cited with approval in U.S. Supreme Court decisions, including several times in the landmark case, District of Columbia v. Heller (2008).

Her book Guns and Violence: The English Experience (2002) has been widely discussed in both scholarly journals and the popular media. Malcolm's most recent book, Peter's War: A New England Slave Boy and the American Revolution, published by Yale University Press early this year, has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.

For more information on Malcolm, visit

The next program in the colloquium will be a Nov. 4 talk on "Civil Liberties and Economic Democracy" by Michael Parenti, the author of 21 books and hundreds of articles on politics, culture, economics, and history.

The "Civil Liberties in the 21st Century Community Conversations Colloquium" is sponsored by the Rogow Distinguished Visiting Lecturers Program and the Office of the Provost. The members of the colloquium planning committee are Jilda Aliotta, Mary Dowst, Marcia Moen, Katie Roy '09, Paul Siegel, and Donn Weinholtz.
Joyce Lee Malcolm

Joyce Lee Malcolm