Fall 2013

The Legal History of the U.S. in the World

Listed in: Law, Jurisprudence, and Social Thought, as LJST-222


Clara J. Altman (Section 01)


Is U.S. law fundamentally inward-looking or is it “cosmopolitan”?  Do jurisdictional boundaries and geographic borders constrain law or does law glide easily across them?  Does law restrain or facilitate government power in international affairs?  In this class we will consider the history of U.S. law and international affairs from the Declaration of Independence and the drafting of the U.S. Constitution to the Global War on Terror.  Core topics include war, diplomacy, colonialism, and foreign occupations with an eye to how international affairs have shaped U.S. law and how law has shaped U.S. engagement in the world. Readings include U.S. Supreme Court cases and other primary historical documents as well as works of law and history including David Armitage’s The Declaration of Independence: A Global History, Sally Merry’s Colonizing Hawaii: The Cultural Power of Law, and Mary Dudziak’s Cold War Civil Rights: Race and the Image of American Democracy. The class is reading-intensive and largely discussion-based. In addition to readings and class participation, students will complete a series of short analytical essays, a historically informed law and policy memorandum, and a major final essay.

Limited to 30 students.  Fall semester.  Visiting Professor Altman.

If Overenrolled: Priority would be given to LJST majors


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2013, Fall 2014