Fall 2012 -
Graduate Course Description
Discipline and Number
7:00 PM - 9:45 PM
|Gender & the Law in US History
Description of Course:
Since the colonial era, the law has ordered how Americans have worked, socialized, and understood themselves and each other -- affecting even their most basic identities and intimate lives. At the same time, Americans across the centuries have invoked the law to claim political rights and to challenge or reinforce social divisions.
In this course, we will explore how the law in America has defined and regulated gender and sexuality. We will evaluate how assumptions about men and women have informed the creation and evolution of American law and shaped the meaning of citizenship. We will consider how facially neutral laws yielded varied affects for men and women across race and class divides, challenging some differences while naturalizing others. Finally, we will examine the power and shortcomings of appeals to formal legal equality waged by diverse groups and individuals. In so doing, we will cover topics ranging from marriage, reproduction and the family to suffrage, work, and military service.
Course readings will consist mostly of secondary books and articles that examine the relationship between law and society. We will analyze several landmark legal cases as primary sources. Thus, no prior knowledge of the law is assumed or necessary.
Preliminary Reading List:
Margot Canaday, The Straight State: Sex and Citizenship in Twentieth Century America. (Princeton University Press, 2009).
Nancy Cott, Public Vows: A History of Marriage and the Nation (Harvard University Press, 2002).
Lori D. Ginzberg, Untidy Origins: A Story of Woman's Rights in Antebellum New York (University of North Carolina Press, 2003).
Linda Kerber, No Constitutional Right to be Ladies: Women and the Obligations of Citizenship (Hill and Wang, 1998).
Alice Kessler-Harris, In Pursuit of Equity: Women, Men and the Quest for Economic Citizenship at Century's End (Oxford University Press, 2003).
Serena Mayeri, Reasoning from Race: Feminism, Law and the Civil Rights Revolution (Harvard University Press, 2011).
John Ruston Pagan, Anne Orthwood's Bastard: Sex and Law in Early Virginia (Oxford University Press, 2002).
Leslie Reagan, When Abortion Was a Crime: Women, Medicine and Law in the United States, 1867-1973 (University of Illinois Press, 1998).
Kenji Yoshino, Covering: The Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights (Random House, 2006).
Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria:
Assignments will include two short papers (4-6 pages), a longer final paper, consistent attendance, and active participation in class discussion.