Samantha Barbas researches and teaches in the areas of legal history, tort law, 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 freedom of speech, 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 is the author of seven books: Actual Malice: Civil Rights and Freedom of the Press in New York Times v. Sullivan (University of California Press, 2023); The Rise and Fall of Morris Ernst: Free Speech Renegade (University of Chicago Press, 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 featured in The New York Times Book Review, The Wall Street Journal, and on CNN, among other media outlets. In 2020, she received a National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholar Award for her book Actual Malice: Civil Rights and Freedom of the Press in New York Times v. Sullivan.