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218.3 sec. 1 - Introduction to U.S. Legal and Constitutional History (Spring 2014)

Instructor: Karen Tani  (view instructor's teaching evaluations | profile)
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Units: 3
Meeting Time: MW 2:10-3:25
Meeting Location: 240

Course Start: January 06, 2014
Class Number (formerly Course Control Number) (Non-1Ls): 49562

This course is designed to place the American legal system and its laws in context by exploring basic themes and events in U.S. legal and constitutional history from the American Revolution to the present. Because of the richness of the subject matter and the wealth of materials available, the course will necessarily be selective. It will focus on four major areas of legal and constitutional development:

1. The state: including topics such as war and other state-sanctioned violence, regulation, social welfare services, protection of individual rights, citizenship, and federalism;

2. The economy: including topics such as immigration, racially-based servitude, industrialization, and market development and regulation;

3. Property: including property in persons, land, business, money;

4. "Private" realms and relations of authority: including topics such as gender, sexuality, the family, and the workplace.

Two large questions provide the connective tissue between these topics: (1) What is the relationship between law and society, or between official law and lived experiences? (2)
What do we learn about law by studying its history? All of us have a particular picture of law, derived from our own background, experiences, and training. How does the historian’s perspective complicate, complement, or contradict that picture?

Students will gain purchase on these questions throughout the course. Students will also derive from the course a deeper understanding of important laws and legal principles, as well as a rich sense of law’s constraining and liberating possibilities.

The course will be conducted primarily in lecture format. Evaluation will be based primarily on a final assignment: either a take-away exam or a review essay.

Exam Notes: TH/P
Course Category: Legal Theory and History
This course is cross-listed in the following categories:
Jurisprudence and Social Policy (JSP)
Law and Society

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Required Books are in blue

  • The Magic Mirror: Law in American History
    Kermit L. Hall and Peter Karsten
    Edition: 2d. edition (May 2008)
    Publisher: Oxford University Press
    ISBN: 9780195081800
    Copyright Date: To Be Determined
    Price: $56.95
    Price Source: user provided

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