Samantha Barbas researches and teaches in the areas of legal history, First Amendment law and mass communications law. Her work focuses on the intersection of law, culture, media and technology in United States history. Her recent research has explored the history of censorship, privacy and defamation.
Barbas holds a Ph.D. in U.S. history from the University of California, Berkeley, and a J.D. from Stanford Law School. She was previously a professor of history at Chapman University, a visiting professor of history at U.C. Berkeley, and a lecturer at Arizona State University. She clerked for Judge Richard Clifton on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Honolulu.
Barbas is the author of six books: The Rise and Fall of Morris Ernst: Free Speech Renegade (University of Chicago Press, May 2021); Confidential Confidential: The Inside Story of Hollywood’s Notorious Scandal Magazine (Chicago Review Press, 2018); Newsworthy: The Supreme Court Battle Over Privacy and Press Freedom (Stanford University Press, 2017); Laws of Image: Privacy and Publicity in America (Stanford University Press, 2015); The First Lady of Hollywood: A Biography of Louella Parsons (University of California Press, 2005); and Movie Crazy: Fans, Stars, and the Cult of Celebrity (Palgrave Macmillan, 2001). Her books have been reviewed in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, among other media outlets. In 2020, she received a National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholar award for her book in progress, on the Supreme Court First Amendment case New York Times v. Sullivan. She is an adviser on the Restatement of the Law (Third) of Torts: Defamation and Privacy.