Fall 2017

Race, Law, and American Literature

Listed in: Law, Jurisprudence, and Social Thought, as LJST-270

Moodle site: Course


Thomas A. Dichter (Section 01)


The story of race in America is inextricably tied to the story of the law, but the nature of that connection is controversial. Is the law a reliable tool for the pursuit of justice, or an obstacle that tends to create injustices of its own? Law has faced longstanding criticism for serving the interests of the powerful at the expense of everyone else. Yet, throughout US history, individuals working for justice have also looked to the law as a means for achieving lasting change. This course will consider how a range of American literary authors have engaged with questions about race, justice, power, and the law. We will read narratives written about (and sometimes against) the law, addressing such issues as slavery, colonialism, crime, incarceration, segregation, civil rights, immigration, and marriage. At the same time, we will study pertinent legal texts (court cases, legislation, treaties) to see what kind of stories the law has told about itself. 

Limited to 30 students.  Fall semester.  Visiting Assistant Professor Dichter.

If Overenrolled: Priority will go to LJST and English majors


Attention to Issues of Race


2020-21: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2017