Law, Jurisprudence, and Social Thought
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Amherst College Law, Jurisprudence, and Social Thought for 2013-14

Law, Jurisp & Social Thought

101 The Social Organization of Law

(Offered as LJST 101 and POSC 218 [LP] [IL - starting with the Class of 2015].)  Law in the United State is everywhere, ordering the most minute details of daily life while at the same time making life and death judgments.  Our law is many things at once--majestic and ordinary, monstrous and merciful, concerned with morality yet often righteously indifferent to moral argument.  Powerful and important in social life, the law remains elusive and mysterious.  This power and mystery is reflected in, and made possible by, a complex bureaucratic apparatus which translates words into deeds and rhetorical gestures into social practices. 

This course will examine that apparatus. It will describe how the problems and possibilities of social organization shape law as well as how the social organization of law responds to persons of different classes, races and genders.  We will attend to the peculiar way the American legal system deals with human suffering--with examples ranging from the legal treatment of persons living in poverty to the treatments of victims of sexual assault. How is law organized to cope with their pain?  How are the actions of persons who inflict inquiries on others defined in legal terms? Here we will examine cases on self defense and capital punishment. Throughout, attention will be given to the practices of police, prosecutors, judges, and those who administer law's complex bureaucratic apparatus.

Limited to 100 students. Omitted 2013-14. Professor Sarat.

2015-16: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012

103 Legal Institutions and Democratic Practice

This course will examine the relationship between legal institutions and democratic practice. How do judicial decisions balance the preferences of the majority and the rights of minorities? Is it possible to reconcile the role that partisan dialogue and commitment play in a democracy with an interest in the neutral administration of law? How does the provisional nature of legislative choice square with the finality of judicial mandate? By focusing on the United States Supreme Court, we will consider various attempts to justify that institution’s power to offer final decisions and binding interpretations of the Constitution that upset majoritarian preferences. We will examine the origins and historical development of the practice of judicial review and consider judicial responses to such critical issues as slavery, the New Deal, and abortion. The evolving contours of Supreme Court doctrine will be analyzed in the light of a continuing effort to articulate a compelling justification for the practice of judicial intervention in the normal operation of a constitutional democracy.

Limited to 50 students. Omitted 2013-14.  Professor Douglas.

2015-16: Offered in Spring 2016
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2010, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2015

105 Race, Place, and the Law

(Offered as LJST 105 and BLST 147 [US].) Understandings of and conflicts about place are of central significance to the experience and history of race and race relations in America. The shaping and reshaping of places is an important ingredient in the constitution and revision of racial identities: think of “the ghetto,” Chinatown, or “Indian Country.” Law, in its various manifestations, has been intimately involved in the processes which have shaped geographies of race from the colonial period to the present day: legally mandated racial segregation was intended to impose and maintain both spatial and social distance between members of different races.

The objective of this course is to explore the complex intersections of race, place, and law. Our aim is to gain some understanding of geographies of race “on-the-ground” in real places, and of the role of legal practices--especially legal argument--in efforts to challenge and reinforce these racial geographies. We will ask, for example, how claims about responsibility, community, rationality, equality, justice, and democracy have been used to justify or resist both racial segregation and integration, access and expulsion. In short, we will ask how moral argument and legal discourse have contributed to the formation of the geographies of race that we all inhabit. Much of our attention will be given to a legal-geographic exploration of African-American experiences. But we will also look at how race, place and the law have shaped the distinctive experiences of Native Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Asian Americans.

Limited to 40 students. Fall semester.  Senior Lecturer Delaney.

2015-16: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2009, Fall 2011, Fall 2013, Fall 2014

107 The Trial

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.

2015-16: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Spring 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013

110 Introduction to Legal Theory

This course provides an introduction to the primary texts and central problems of modern legal theory. Through close study of the field’s founding and pivotal works, we will weigh and consider various ways to think about questions that every study, practice, and institution of law eventually encounters. These questions concern law’s very nature or essence; its relations to knowledge, morality, religion, and the passions; the status of its language and interpretations; its relation to force and the threat of force; and its place and function in the preservation and transformation of political, social and economic order.

Limited to 40 students. Spring semester. Professor Sitze.

2015-16: Offered in Fall 2015
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015

136 Law Between Plato and the Poets

Ancient tragedy, ancient comedy, and Platonic political philosophy pose very different questions about the essence and basis of law, and about law’s relation to such matters as conflict, politics, guilt, love, suffering, action, justice, and wisdom. This course is a preliminary study of the relationships between these differing modes of inquiry. We will spend the first half of the course outlining the theories of law that govern select dramatic works by Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Aristophanes. In the second half of the course, we will trace the intricate way these theories are at once incorporated into and rejected by Platonic political philosophy, as exemplified by Plato’s Republic. Along the way, we shall weigh and consider competing versions of the “return to Plato” in contemporary philosophy. In addition to reading key works by Aeschylus, Sophocles, Aristophanes, and Plato, we will read contemporary texts by Giorgio Agamben, Danielle Allen, Alain Badiou, Hans-Georg Gadamer, René Girard, Martin Heidegger, Bonnie Honig, Bernard Knox, Nicole Loraux, Ramona Naddaff, Martha Nussbaum, Jacques Rancière, Leo Strauss, Jean-Pierre Vernant, and Simone Weil.

Limited to 30 students. Spring semester.  Professor Sitze.

2015-16: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2011, Spring 2014

143 Law's History

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.

2015-16: Offered in Spring 2016
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2014, Fall 2014

208 Global Law

Does law create global order?  Can international law prevent abuses of power? Are national sovereignty and international law compatible? These questions have been at the center of the quest for international order through law in the modern world. This course examines the ideas, values, and concepts that have structured international legal thought from the seventeenthcentury law of nations tradition to the modern liberal international order. Core topics include liberal democratic revolutions, capitalism and trade, imperialism, human rights, and international institutions with a focus on the historical evolution of Western and non-Western ideas and practices of international law. Readings include primary historical documents and secondary works in law and history.

Spring semester. Visiting Professor Altman.

2015-16: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2014, Spring 2015

212 Psychoanalysis and Law

Although psychoanalysis is not usually considered a part of the discipline of jurisprudence, its theories allow for comprehensive answers to the fundamental questions of jurisprudence, and its lexicon permits us to refer with clarity and precision to realities of juridical experience about which disciplinary jurisprudence remains silent. Psychoanalysis interprets law within a field defined by the vicissitudes and impasses of unconscious desire, giving us a way to speak about the pathologies that are constitutive of law’s normal operation, and this amounts, in effect if not in name, to a jurisprudence as compelling as it is unorthodox. At the same time, however, psychoanalysis also has been constrained, at key points in its history, by some of the very juridical forms and forces it seeks to analyze and to question, sometimes even to the point where those forms and forces have reappeared, internalized, within its own most basic theories and practices. If psychoanalysis allows for a comprehensive theory of law, so too then can law serve as an exemplary point of departure for the rethinking of psychoanalysis itself. The purpose of this course will be to pursue this twofold inquiry. After tracing the way that law emerges as a question within the thinking of Sigmund Freud, and considering the ways in which certain juridical problems and events are prior to and generative of Freud’s thought, we then will explore the various ways in which post-Freudian thinkers have not only applied but also rethought Freudian psychoanalysis in their own studies of law. 

Limited to 40 students.  Fall semester.  Professor Sitze.

2015-16: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009, Spring 2012, Fall 2013

214 What's So Great About (In)Equality?

In our world, commitment to "equality" in one sense/form or another is nearly uncontested.  At the same time, the form that it should take, its normative ground, scope, limits and conditions, the ways in which it may be realized, and much else are deeply contested.  It is also the case that the world in which we live is characterized by profound, enduring and intensifying inequalities and numerous exceptions to the principle.  These may be justified with reference to various countervailing commitments that are accorded ethical or practical priority (desert, liberty, efficiency, political stability, ecological integrity, pluralism, etc.). This suggests that while for many "equality" may be normatively compelling, its realization may be subordinated to any number of interests and desires; or, to put it bluntly, there may be such a condition as too much equality or not enough inequality, privilege and "disadvantage."  This course treats these themes as they have arisen in distinctively legal contexts, projects and arguments.  It will engage a range of debates within political philosophy and legal theory as to the appropriate limits of equality.  While many forms and expressions of inequality have fallen into relative disfavor, some seem virtually immune to significant amelioration.  Among these are those associated with social-economic class.  Following general investigations of egalitarianism and anti-egalitarianism in social thought and legal history, we will devote closer attention to the legal dimensions of class inequality in contexts such as labor law, welfare and poverty law, education and criminal justice.  We will conclude with an examination of the limits of legal egalitarianism vis-à-vis international class-based inequalities under conditions of globalization and cosmopolitan humanitarianism. 

Limited to 40 students.  Fall semester.  Senior Lecturer Delaney.

2015-16: Offered in Spring 2016
Other years: Offered in Spring 2010, Spring 2012, Fall 2013

215 Jurisprudence of Occupation

This class is organized as an inquiry into the questions that are raised for jurisprudence by the specific cultural, spatial, and political experience of occupation.  In particular, we will examine the experiences of colonial occupation in twentieth-century India, South Africa, Malaya and Algeria, as well as contemporary occupations in the West Bank, Gaza, Iraq, and Afghanistan, focusing throughout on the continuities and discontinuities between the two.  Throughout the course, we will concentrate on the way in which the jurisprudence of occupation blurs many of the distinctions that modern, liberal jurisprudence seeks to maintain and justify--fusing, for example, everyday practices of governing (e.g., policing, census-taking, and policies of segregation) with distinctively military actions (e.g., air power, destruction of lives and infrastructure, and counterinsurgency campaigns). The questions we ask in this course will be both theoretical and historical.  What might the genealogy of colonial occupation have to teach us about aspirations and limits of the jurisprudence of contemporary occupation?  How, if at all, have paradigms of occupation changed with the advent of the era of decolonization, the introduction of tactics of sophisticated air power, the emergence of advanced communications technology, and the unprecedented temporalities and spatialities of economic globalization?  Additionally, we will examine how international law defines and regulates occupation.  What is occupation?  On what grounds does modern jurisprudence authorize and  constrain occupation?  What is the difference between a legal occupation and an illegal occupation?  Last but not least, we will ask what precedents, insights and lessons occupation provides for a more general understanding of law, governance, and conflict. 

Admission with consent of the instructor. Limited to 30 students. Fall semester. Professor Hussain.

2015-16: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013

217 Thinking Law with Shakespeare

Shakespeare is often hailed as the playwright-poet who ushered in modernity, in large part because of his staging of apparently modern concepts of jurisprudence at their moment of inception.  In this class, we will re-assess this image of Shakespeare through close readings of five plays (The Merchant of Venice, Measure for Measure, Richard II, Hamlet, and The Winter’s Tale). These plays grapple with legal and philosophical issues as wide-ranging as mercy and equity, the role of law in regulating sexuality, the possibility of rebellion in the face of tyranny, and the animating force of communal justice. But we will ask if, taken together, they constitute a theory of the promise, or limits, of modern law.  In tackling this question, this course will be interested centrally in matters of literary and theatrical practice.  Attention to, among other things, word play, genre (comedy, tragedy, history romance), performance, and audience will become the means by which we think law with Shakespeare.  In doing so, we will also re-think the genesis of modern jurisprudence and ask what it means to consider ourselves modern.

Limited to 30 students.  Omitted 2013-14. 

2015-16: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013

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

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.

2015-16: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2013, Fall 2014

223 Boundaries of Belonging:  Law and Citizenship

How has law structured who belongs and who is foreign to the United States? In this class, we will take a broad historical look at the law of citizenship to answer this question.  Beginning with the founding of the nation, we will consider the various ways that law has defined the fundamental privileges and obligations of national belonging, and then policed the boundaries between those entitled to the privileges of citizenship and those denied them. We will discuss how legal concepts of social and political belonging rooted in ideas about self-ownership changed over time to the twentieth century civil rights paradigm; how certain groups have been excluded from the full benefits of citizenship on the basis of race, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, and political and territorial status; how individuals have used the courts to challenge those exclusions and claim citizenship rights; and how the legal rules and procedures that determine who can be admitted to the country and who cannot reflect evolving state preferences and fears of foreignness. Students will read U.S. Supreme Court cases including Dred Scott v. Sandford, Brown v. Board of Education, Lawrence v. Texas, and Hamdi v. Rumsfeld with works of history, law, and political science. Readings include Barbara Welke’s Law and the Borders of Belonging in the Long Nineteenth Century, Mae Ngai’s Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America, Risa Goluboff’s The Lost Promise of Civil Rights, and David Cole’s Enemy Aliens: Double Standards and Constitutional Freedoms in the War on Terrorism. In addition to regular class attendance, reading, and discussion, students will complete several written assignments including short analytical essays, and an assignment in which they will rewrite a portion of a Supreme Court opinion.

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

2015-16: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2013, Fall 2014

225 Film, Myth, and the Law

(Offered as LJST 225 and FAMS 371.)  The proliferation of law in film and on television has expanded the sphere of legal life itself. Law lives in images that today saturate our culture and have a power all their own, and the moving image provides a domain in which legal power operates independently of law’s formal institutions. This course will consider what happens when legal events are re-narrated in film and examine film’s treatment of legal officials, events, and institutions (e.g., police, lawyers, judges, trials, executions, prisons). Does film open up new possibilities of judgment, model new modes of interpretation, and provide new insights into law’s violence? We will discuss ways in which myths about law are reproduced and contested in film. Moreover, attending to the visual dimensions of law’s imagined lives, we ask whether law provides a template for film spectatorship, positioning viewers as detectives and as jurors, and whether film, in turn, sponsors a distinctive visual aesthetics of law. Among the films we may consider are Inherit the Wind, Call Northside 777, Judgment at Nuremberg, Rear Window, Silence of the Lambs, A Question of Silence, The Sweet Hereafter, Dead Man Walking, Basic Instinct, and Unforgiven. Throughout we will draw upon film theory and criticism as well as the scholarly literature on law, myth, and film.

Requisite: LJST 101 or 110 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 30 students. Omitted 2013-14.  Professor Umphrey.

2015-16: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2015

226 Critical Legal Geographies

The spatiality of social life is a fundamental element of human existence, not least through its involvement with power of various sorts. Spatiality is also a significant--and problematic--dimension of law (think of sovereignty, jurisdiction, citizenship). At the same time, law is a significant force through which spatiality is produced, reinforced, contested and transformed. Law literally constitutes social spaces through constitutions, treaties, statutes, contracts, modes of surveillance and policing, and so on. As it does so, it constitutes itself as a force in the world. Law may also be an arena in which other social-spatial conflicts are played out and, provisionally, resolved. The course will consider both the changing spatiality of law (its scope, scale, limits; its vectors and circuits) and the changing legal constitution of other social spaces. This will be done through an engagement with contemporary socio-spatial and legal theories and through a survey of exemplary events and situations. Among the more specific topics we will consider are privacy and property; public space of speech and dissent; migration, displacement and sanctuary; colonialism and occupation. The contexts of our study will not be limited to/by American law but will include examples involving international law, forms of legal pluralism, and other legal-cultural contexts. The course will conclude with an investigation of globalization and the emergence of cyberspace and their posited effects on the very possibility of law as we have come to understand and experience it.

Requisite: LJST 110 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 30 students. Omitted 2013-14. Senior Lecturer Delaney.

2015-16: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2012, Spring 2015

230 Law, Speech, and the Politics of Freedom

In the United States, the idea of free speech is held to be both a political and moral ideal. The First Amendment makes freedom of speech a centerpiece of liberal democratic values and processes, and thus of American identity itself. But what, precisely, do we mean when we link the ideas of freedom and speech? What kinds of speech, and what kinds of freedom, are implicated in that linkage? Correlatively, what does it mean to “censor”? Drawing upon political philosophy, literary theory, court cases, imaginative writing, and examples from contemporary culture, this course will explore the multiple meanings of “free speech,” their legal regulation, and their deployment in American public culture. Why should we value “free” speech? Who do we imagine to be the speaker whose speech is or ought to be free: the man on the soapbox? The political protester? The media conglomerate? The anonymous chat-room inhabitant? What does it mean to say that various kinds of speech may be dangerous, and under what conditions it might be conceivable to shut down or regulate dangerous speech, or conversely to promote “politically correct” speech in either formal or informal ways? How do speech forms (for example, parody, poetry, or reportage) differ, and should some garner more legal protection than others? Can silence be considered a kind of speech?

Requisite: LJST 101 or 110 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 30 students. Fall semester. Professor Umphrey.

2015-16: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2011, Fall 2013

231 Social Movements and Social Change

This course examines social movements (and related phenomena) as integral elements of legal orders and as significant sources of legal transformations. Through interdisciplinary, cross-cultural, and historical analyses, the course will explore the ways in which non-state actors engage formal legal institutions to shape or reform law, in order to affect the conditions of social life. Of particular interest are not merely desired changes in laws but resultant changes in the culture of law more broadly. The course will draw on a wide range of movements (historical and contemporary; “progressive” and conservative; broad-based and narrowly focused; American and non-American; local, national and global; North and South, activist and bureaucratic from “below” and from “within”; etc.) and study two or three in closer detail. The over-arching objective is to achieve a richer understanding of both the inner workings of “the law” and the dynamic life of law outside of formal institutions.

Limited to 30 students. Omitted 2013-14. Senior Lecturer Delaney.

2015-16: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Fall 2010, Spring 2013, Spring 2015

235 Law's Nature: Humans, the Environment and the Predicament of Law

“Nature” is at once among the most basic of concepts and among the most ambiguous. Law is often called upon to clarify the meaning of nature. In doing so it raises questions about what it means to be human.

This course is organized around three questions. First, what does law as a humanistic discipline say about nature? Second, what can law’s conception of nature tell us about shifting conceptions of humanness? Third, what can we learn by attending to these questions about law’s own situation in the world and its ability to tell us who we are? We will address these questions by starting with the environment (specifically wilderness). We will then expand our view of nature by examining legal engagements with animals (endangered species, animals in scientific experiments, and pets), human bodies (reproductive technologies, involuntary biological alterations, the right to die) and brains (genetic or hormonal bases for criminal defenses). Throughout, we will focus our attention on the themes of knowledge, control and change. We will look, for example, at relationships between legal and scientific forms of knowledge and the problematic role of expert knowledge in adjudicating normative disputes. We will also look at law’s response to radical, technologically induced changes in relations between humans and nature, and to arguments in favor of limiting such transformations.

Requisite: LJST 101 or 110 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 30 students. Spring semester.  Senior Lecturer Delaney.

2015-16: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Fall 2011, Spring 2014

345 Law and Political Emergency

(Analytic Seminar) This course introduces students to one of the more sustained problems in jurisprudence and legal theory: what happens to a constitutional order when it is faced with extraordinary conditions such as rebellion, war and terrorism. While it is generally agreed that rules, rights and procedures may be temporarily suspended, it is less clear which rights, and who decides on the suspension (the executive alone or in some combination with the legislature, with or without oversight by the courts). While these questions have now become familiar to us--and this course will guide students through the policy shifts and court battles in the United States since 9/11, from the issue of enemy combatants to the use of Guantanamo Bay as a detention center--we will take a more theoretical and historical approach to these questions. Thus we will look at the earliest use of some emergency techniques by the British in the colonies, Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus during the Civil War and the notorious Article 48 of the Weimar Constitution, which has often been blamed for facilitating the rise of the Nazis. We will end by examining alternative methods for contending with emergency.  One class meeting per week.

Requisite: LJST 101 or 110 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Hussain.

2015-16: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2013, Fall 2013

348 Law And War

(Research Seminar) The traditional understanding of war involved the armies of two nation-states confronting each other on a battlefield. And other than general customs of a just war, the law was thought to have little to say about war. But in the last half century even as the traditional form of war has changed rapidly, as conflicts involving non-state actors (such as insurgency and terrorism) have increased, international law has developed an intricate set of rules regarding who can fight and what methods of fighting are legal.

This course explores the connection between different types of conflict and the norms and rules of international law that are used to regulate that conflict. In this course, we will take a historical approach. We will read classic theorists of war such as Clausewitz, Schmitt and Michael Walzer. We will examine the history of The Hague and Geneva Conventions. And we will focus on specific instances of war from nineteenth-century colonial conflicts and guerilla warfare, to the 1999 “humanitarian” intervention in Kosovo, to the various fronts in the contemporary “war on terror.” Throughout we will ask how changes in technology and law change the definition of war. How do legal definitions of war attempt to demarcate it from other forms of violent conflict such as insurgency or terrorism?

Requisite: LJST 101 or 110 or consent of the instructor. Open to juniors and seniors. Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2013-14. Professor Hussain.

2015-16: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Fall 2012

349 Law and Love (Analytical Seminar)

(Analytic Seminar) At first glance, law and love seem to tend in opposing directions: where law is constituted in rules and regularity, love emerges in contingent, surprising, and ungovernable ways; where law speaks in the language of reason, love’s language is of sentiment and affect; where law regulates society through threats of violence, love binds with a magical magnetism. In this seminar, placing materials in law and legal theory alongside theoretical and imaginative work on the subject of love, we invert that premise of opposition in order to look for love’s place in law and law’s in love. First we will inquire into the ways in which laws regulate love, asking how is love constituted and arranged by those regulations, and on what grounds it escapes them. In that regard we will explore, among other areas, the problematics of passion in criminal law and laws regulating sexuality, marriage, and family. Second we will ask, how does love in its various guises (as, philia, eros, or agape) manifest itself in law and legal theory, and indeed partly constitute law itself? Here we will explore, for example, sovereign exercises of mercy, the role of equity in legal adjudication, and the means that bind legal subjects together in social contract theory. Finally, we will explore an analogy drawn by W. H. Auden, asking how law is like love, and by extension love like law. How does attending to love’s role in law, and law’s in love, shift our imaginings of both?

Requisite: LJST 110 or consent of the instructor. Open to juniors and seniors. Limited to 15 students. Spring semester.  Professor Umphrey.

2015-16: Offered in Fall 2015
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2009, Fall 2011, Spring 2014

350 Twentieth-Century American Legal Theory

(Analytic Seminar) The discipline of legal theory has the task of making law meaningful to itself. But there is a variety of competing legal theories that can make law meaningful in divergent ways. By what measure are we to assess their adequacy? Is internal coherence the best standard or should legal theory strive to accord with the extra-legal world? Then too, the institutions and practices of law are components of social reality and, therefore, as amenable to sociological or cultural analysis as any other component. Here again, many different kinds of sense can be made of law depending upon how “the social” is itself theorized. This course engages the theme of law and the problems of social reality by way of a three-step approach. The first part of the course presents an overview of the main lines of twentieth-century American legal thought. We begin with a study of legal formalism and the challenges posed to it by legal realism and its various successor theories. One focus of debate between formalism and its rivals is how much social realism should be brought to bear on legal analysis. Another question is: what kind of social realism should be brought to bear on the analysis of law. The second segment of the course provides a survey of some of the candidates. These include the Law and Society Movement, neo-Marxism and Critical Legal Studies. In the final segment we look at how these theoretical issues are given expression in connection with more practical contexts such as poverty law, labor law or criminal law.

Requisite: LJST 101 or 110 or consent of the instructor. Limited to Juniors and Seniors. Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2013-14.  Senior Lecturer Delaney.

2015-16: Offered in Spring 2016
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2014

353 Guantanamo:  Law, History, and U.S. Empire (Research Seminar)

(Research Seminar)

The detention of “enemy combatants” at Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility has become a primary symbol of American hypocrisy after 9/11.  Critics have described Guantanamo as a legal “black hole,” and it is often depicted as a reflection of the rupture in American legal traditions initiated by the unprecedented scope of the Global War on Terror.  In this course we will consider this rupture narrative about American law in historical context. Using Guantanamo Bay as a case study in the history of law and U.S. imperialism we will evaluate historical continuity and change across the range of legal issues raised by the detention of enemy combatants at Guantanamo. Topics include territoriality and legal borders, rights to legal process, the treatment of prisoners of war, and the power of military tribunals. Students will undertake independent research projects to gain the tools of legal historical research. They will learn to place doctrinal questions in broader social and cultural contexts and they will explore the possibilities for using historical research to make informed and transformative contributions to discussions in law, history, and policy.  Students will synthesize their findings in three forms: in a written final essay, in an oral presentation to the class, and in a series of contributions to a group blog. 

Limited to 15 students; preference to LJST majors.  Spring semester.  Visiting Professor Altman.


2015-16: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2014, Spring 2015

354 The Crisis of Neoliberal Legal Theory

(Research Seminar) The theory of governance known today as "neoliberalism" is most often understood as a mainly economic policy.  Both its opponents and its proponents seem to agree that neoliberalism is best debated as an ensemble of practices (such as free trade, privatization, deregulation, competitiveness, social-spending cutbacks and deficit reduction) that emphasize the primacy of the free market in and for the arrangement of social and political orders.  But, particularly in its initial theorizations, neoliberalism was also, perhaps even primarily, a philosophic doctrine concerning the place and function of law in and for human civilization in general.  At the 1938 Walter Lippman Colloquium in Paris and then again at the inaugural 1947 meeting of the Mont Pelerin Society in Switzerland, the leading figures of what would later become known as neoliberalism criticized existing economic theories for neglecting basic questions of legal theory and argued that capitalism could not be saved from the perils of socialism and communism without a renewed understanding of, and insistence on, the rule of law.  In this course, we shall take this, the "legal theoretical" origin of neoliberalism, as a point of departure for understanding neoliberalism as a whole.  In the first half of the course, we shall seek to understand neoliberalism on the basis of the way it posed law as a problem for thought.  In relation to what alternate theories of law did neoliberalism emerge?  On what terms did neoliberals reinterpret the "classical" liberalism of Hobbes and Locke?  How did certain concepts of law figure into the way that neoliberal thinkers arrived at their understandings of the basic meanings of life and labor?  In the second half of the course, we shall explore the ways in which various critics of neoliberalism have sought to expose and to question the legal theories at its origin.  How might renewed attention to legal theoretical problems help us today in our attempt to think and act beyond neoliberalism's constitutive limits?  Our goal in all phases of the course will be to reconstruct neoliberal thought on its own terms in order to grasp better its contemporary incoherence, crisis, and dissolution.   Readings will include Samir Amin, Zygmunt Bauman, Michel Foucault, Milton Friedman, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, David Harvey, Friedrich Hayek, Maynard Keynes, Naomi Klein, Karl Marx, Ludwig von Mises, Alexander Rustow, and Saskia Sassen.

Requisite:  LJST 110 or consent of the instructor.  Limited to 15 students.  Fall semester.  Professor Sitze.


2015-16: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Fall 2014

357 Property, Liberty and Law

(Research Seminar) What we call property is enormously important in establishing the nature of a legal regime. Moreover, an exploration of property offers a window on how a culture sees itself. Examining how property notions are used and modified in practice can also provide critical insights into many aspects of social history and contemporary social reality.

We will begin our discussion of property by treating it as an open-ended cluster of commonplace and more specialized notions (e.g., owner, gift, lease, estate) used to understand and shape the world. We will look at how the relation of property to such values as privacy, security, citizenship and justice has been understood in political and legal theory and how different conceptions of these relations have entered into constitutional debates. We will also study the relationship of property and the self (How might one’s relation to property enter into conceptions of self? Do we “own” ourselves? Our bodies or likenesses? Our thoughts?), property and everyday life (How are conceptions of property used to understand home, work and community?) and property and culture, (Do our conceptions of property influence understandings of cultural differences between ourselves and others? Does it make sense to claim ownership over one’s ancestors?). In sum, this course will raise questions about how property shapes our understandings of liberty, personhood, agency and power.

Requisite: LJST 101 or 110 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2013-14. Senior Lecturer Delaney.

2015-16: Offered in Fall 2015
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2009, Spring 2012, Spring 2013

374 Norms, Rights, and Social Justice: Feminists, Disability Rights Activists and the Poor at the Boundaries of the Law

(Offered as POSC 474 [GP, LP] [SC - starting with the Class of 2015] and LJST 374.) This seminar explores how the civil rights movement began a process of social change and identity-based activism. We evaluate the successes and failures of “excluded” groups’ efforts to use the law. We primarily focus on the recent scholarship of theorists, legal professionals, and activists to define “post-identity politics” strategies and to counteract the social processes that “normalize” persons on the basis of gender, sexuality, disability, and class. This course fulfills the requirement for an advanced seminar in Political Science.

Requisite: One introductory Political Science course or its equivalent. Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Bumiller.

2015-16: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014

490 Special Topics

Independent Reading Courses. Reading in an area selected by the student and approved in advance by a member of the Department.

Fall and spring semesters.

2015-16: Offered in Fall 2015 and Spring 2016
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015

498, 499 Senior Departmental Honors

Independent work under the guidance of a tutor assigned by the Department. Open to senior LJST majors who wish to pursue a self-defined project in reading and writing and to work under the close supervision of a faculty member.

Admission with consent of the instructor. Fall semester.

2015-16: Offered in Fall 2015
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014

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COLQ-331 The Meaning of Catastrophe (Course not offered this year.)
ECON-426 Law and Economics (Course not offered this year.)
HIST-488 Riot and Rebellion in Colonial and Post-Colonial Africa (Course not offered this year.)
POSC-241 The American Constitution I: The Structure of Rights (Course not offered this year.)
POSC-245 Modern Political Thought (Course not offered this year.)
RELI-263 Ancient Israel (Course not offered this year.)
RELI-267 Reading the Rabbis (Course not offered this year.)
WAGS-226 Women and the Law in Cross-Cultural Perspective (Course not offered this year.)

Clark House