Spring 2013 - Undergraduate Course Descriptions
Description of Course:
Questions about the role and nature of the law have been at the heart of the defining events of American history: the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, popular demands for suffrage and other civil rights, the expansion of the federal government, and more. As Americans have struggled to answer these questions, the law has shaped society, society has shaped the law, and this interplay has created the central foundations of and divisions within American life. This course will trace the history of law in America from colonial times into the present. Through lectures, readings and discussions, we will consider how legal authorities influenced people and their property and how the boundaries between the public and private realms were developed and challenged. We will also explore how Americans of varied race, class and gender identities experienced the law differently. Finally, we will examine how the law has helped to produce categories of social difference while providing disempowered groups with an avenue for advocacy. Legal history involves written laws and challenges to them—as well as the social history of the law’s impact and the political history of efforts to change it. Thus, course readings will include legal texts, secondary legal and historical writings, and popular commentary.
Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria: