Spring 2024

Law's History

Listed in: Law, Jurisprudence, and Social Thought, as LJST-143


Martha M. Umphrey (Section 01)


This course examines the ways in which historical thinking and imagining operate in the domain of law. History and law are homologous and tightly linked. Law in various guises uses history as its backbone, as a lens through which to view and adjudicate tangled moral problems, and as a means of proof in rendering judgment. Questions of history and precedent are integral to an understanding of the way language and rhetoric operate in the very creation of legal doctrine. Moreover, law’s use of history also has a history of its own, and our present understanding of the relationship between the two is a product of Enlightenment thinking. Conceiving of history as one kind of “narrative of the real,” in this course we will explore the premises that underlie history’s centrality to law as we inquire after the histories that law demands, creates, and excludes, as well as the ways in which law understands and uses history to seek finality, and to legitimize its authority.

Limited to 40 students. Spring Semester. Professor Umphrey.

How to handle overenrollment: preference given to LJST majors and underclass students interested in LJST

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: Emphasis on close reading of a wide variety of texts, written work, and class participation.

LJST 143 - LEC

Section 01
Tu 10:00 AM - 11:20 AM
Th 10:00 AM - 11:20 AM


Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2021, Spring 2022, Fall 2022