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, an opportunity to engage in original research and writing in legal history. This semester our readings range in time from 1400 to 2000, focusing on banishment of Jewish and Christian moneylenders in late Medieval Europe, the rule of law in the British and Spanish Empires, nationality laws in late 19th century Alexandria, decolonization and left lawyering across the British Empire, the legal power of textiles and clothing for women in the 19th century U. S., slavery, commerce, and an American history of human rights, law, workplace injury, and disability in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century U.S., the impact of automobiles on rights, and LGBT workers in the second half of the twentieth century. Collectively, their works 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.