Considered as a field of study, legal history is as much history as it is law, and history is primarily a discipline of the book rather than the article. For this reason I have chosen to make this a course that focuses on books, particularly books about the 19th and 20th centuries. We cannot hope to acquire a comprehensive knowledge in one semester, so I have chosen to opt for breadth over depth. Over the course of the semester we will read a selection of the field's best work, ranging from the classics that have structured the field, stirred controversy and inspired generations of scholars (like Hurst's Law and the Conditions of Freedom and Horwitz's Transformation of American Law), to the best work of the current generation (like Edwards' The People and their Peace and Novak's The People's Welfare), to notable recent work by younger scholars (like Witt's Accidental Republic, Canaday's Straight State and Goluboff's Lost Promise of Civil Rights). Over the course of the semester we will accumulate considerable knowledge of American legal history; we will also examine the very different ways that historians have chosen to write the history of American law (and the very different subjects they have considered appropriate to write about). An examination of key topics in the legal history of the United States.
Perspective Courses [Primary]