New Courses for Fall 2020 -

NEW for FALL 2020


LJST 228—Police Power — Visiting Prof. Michaela Brangan—                                 

Demands to reform, defund, or abolish the police have a long history, even as contemporary calls to curb law enforcement are hotly debated. Some worry that demands for radical changes to policing spell political doom. Others hope they toll the final bell for racism. And some think even minor cuts to police will trigger a Hobbesian “war of all against all.” What is the relationship between the police and what jurists name “police power”: the state's legal authority over public health and welfare? How did this relationship originate, and how has it changed? What does it look like outside of the US? What other social and economic factors intersect with law in debates over the redistribution and transformation of police power? Can the US continue without police as we know them? We will examine these questions using cases and statutory law, critical race and feminist scholarship, political theory, and literary and visual culture to guide our inquiry. 

Limited to 18 students.

Meets Wednesday and Friday – 8:30am – 9:50am


LJST 253—Arendt’s Judgments — Professor Adam Sitze—                                  

Fearlessly independent, tenaciously unclassifiable, frequently controversial, and always thought-provoking, Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) is without question one of the greatest thinkers of the twentieth century. Setting aside the conventional interpretation of Arendt as a political theorist, this course will focus on Arendt’s contributions to the study of law, with special attention to Arendt’s unusual inquiries into human rights, international criminal law, constitutional law, and civil disobedience. By carefully reading select writings by Arendt alongside key events in twentieth century history, we shall trace in Arendt’s texts a relation between thought, crisis, and judgment that is often occluded by the dominant reception of her thought. Along the way, we shall ask how Arendt arrived at her various judgments, what it means for thought to relate to law and to the world, and why judgment might offer a way to respond to, and live through, the crises of one’s present.

Limited to 40 students.

Meets Tuesday and Thursday – 10:10am – 11:30am – ONLINE ONLY


COLQ TBA – Ailing States -  Prof. Martha Umphrey, Prof. Adam Sitze and Assoc. Prof. Michael Kunichika (Russian Dept.) —                      

“Plague” has multiple origins, so the etymologists tell us. It is associated with stroke, wound, illness, interpreted as divine punishment. “Pandemic,” a word of more recent vintage, relates to “a disease: epidemic over a very large area; affecting a large proportion of a population.” This colloquium will inquire into the current crisis by undertaking a critical history of plagues and pandemics and how they relate to governance and the state. How did we arrive at this moment? How does studying past plagues enable us to better understand the various valences of the present pandemic moment? How does the pandemic implicate the state, and can it be thought outside of state governance? Can any political system “manage” a pandemic, and at what costs? What are the narrative or representational modes that would be proper to capturing this moment? And what kind of explanation and mode of historical

understanding would our answers to such questions indicate about ourselves and our scholarly disciplines?

We will read and engage a wide range of texts (ancient texts such as Thucydides’ The Peloponnesian Wars and Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex, the contemporary theories of Michel Foucault, Wendy Brown, Pierre Bourdieu, Hannah Arendt, and others, alongside contemporary cultural explorations of plague and pandemic in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries such as the Spanish flu, HIV/AIDS, and coronavirus). This course will combine lectures (some of which may be made available to the Amherst community via zoom) with an in-class discussion format and tutorial model that will allow students to pursue independent work.

Limited to 18 students. If Overenrolled: Priority given to sophomores

Meets Tuesday and Thursday 1:30pm – 2:50pm  - Note: Prof. Sitze will be teaching ONLINE.