Legal History Workshop – 6702

Fall 2023

NOTE: This course is cross-listed with the History (HIST) department. Some classes may overlap with the Law School final exam period.

The goals of this seminar are to think broadly about the character and role of law by considering law in historical perspective both in and beyond the United States; to provide students with an introduction to the field of legal history; to give students the opportunity to engage with leading scholars engaged in projects at the intersection of law and history and to contribute to field defining work in the making; and, for those who enroll in an additional one-credit of independent research (or Hist. 8644), an opportunity to engage in original research and writing in legal history.  This semester our guests will be:
•  Susanna Blumenthal, William Prosser Professor of Law and Professor of History, Co-Director of the Program in Law and History (
•  Margot Canaday, Professor of History, Princeton University ( , Queer Career: Sexuality and Work in Modern America (Princeton Univ. Press, 2023) 
•  Wesley B. Chaney, Assistant Professor of History, Bates College (  “Forgotten Hills: Law, Environment, and Social Change on the Frontiers of Tibet and China” 
•  Sylvia Sellers Garcia, Professor of History, Boston College (… , “Making Criminals: Order and Disorder in the Colonial Archive” 
•  Katrina Jagodinsky, Susan J. Rosowski Associate Professor of History, University of Nebraska ( , “Petitioning for Freedom: Habeas Corpus in the American West, 1812-1924” 
•  Rebecca McLennan, Preston Hotchkis Chair in the History of the United States, UC Berkeley ( , “The Wild Life of Law” 
•  Ivón Padilla-Rodriguez, Assistant Professor of History, University of Illinois Chicago ( , “ ‘I Think I Am in Prison:’ Migrant Smuggling and Youth Labor Trafficking on Farms in the Post-1965 United States” 
•  Christopher W. Schmidt, Professor of Law, Chicago-Kent College of Law (… , From his book project: on the history of the U. S. Supreme Court. 
•  Dan Sharfstein, Dick and Martha Lansden Chair in Law, Professor of History, Vanderbilt Law School ( ), “Negotiating Nationhood: Cherokee and Chickasaw Lawyers in the Allotment Era”

Collectively, their works and our other readings will encourage students to think comparatively about the role of law in defining the nature and limits of state power, with particular attention to rights and their limits.  It is a terrific schedule and I am very much looking forward to it.  No previous knowledge of legal history is assumed; an interest in history is important.