Fall 2012

The Trial

Listed in: Law, Jurisprudence, and Social Thought, as LJST-107

Formerly listed as: LJST-07


Martha M. Umphrey (Section 01)


If media coverage is any evidence, it is clear that legal trials capture, and have always captured, the imagination of America. Trials engage us affectively and politically by dramatizing difficult moral and social predicaments and by offering a public forum for debate and judgment. They also “perform” law in highly stylized ways that affect our sense of what law is and does. This course will explore the trial from a number of different angles: as an idea, as a legal practice, and as a modern cultural phenomenon. What does it mean to undergo a “trial”? How do various historical trial forms--trial by ordeal or by oath, for example--compare with our contemporary adversarial form? What cultural and legal trajectories have trials followed in U.S. history? What narrative and structuring roles do trials play in literature and film? How do popular renderings of trials in imaginative texts and the media compare with actual trial practice, and perhaps encourage us to sit in judgment on law itself? In what ways do well-known trials help us to tell a story about what America is, and what kind of story is it?

Limited to 40 students. Fall semester. Professor Umphrey.

If Overenrolled: Upper class students will be given preference. Discussion based course.

Cost: $57.00 ?

LJST 107 - L/D

Section 01
Tu 02:30 PM - 03:50 PM FAYE 115
Th 02:30 PM - 03:50 PM FAYE 115

ISBN Title Publisher Author(s) Comment Book Store Price
Eichmann in Jerusalem (Penguin) Penguin 1992 Arendt, Hannah Amherst Books TBD
The Oresteia 1988 Penguin Aeschylus (translation Fagles) Amherst Books TBD
A Trial by Jury 1st ed. AA. Kopf 2001 D. Graham Burnett Amherst Books TBD

These books are available locally at Amherst Books.


2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Spring 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013