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Winter 2012 Class Descriptions

As of 5/25/2018 5:36:38 AM

Boundr of Citzshp

The Boundaries of Citizenship: Inclusion, Exclusion, and the History

of Civil Rights under Law, 1787 1915

This course explores the changing boundaries and content of state and national citizenship, from the period of slavery to the early twentieth century. The core question is: how was membership in the social and political community defined for men and women in the United States, and how were those definitions changed over time? We will examine the genesis and meanings of legal freedom and formal citizenship for former slaves, and ask what rights could be claimed--and on what basis--by immigrants, and by residents of territories acquired or conquered by the United States.

The course will link the methods of historical research with those of legal scholarship, emphasizing the social dynamics that lie behind legal cases, and the legal constraints that operate on social processes. Readings for the course draw on state and federal Supreme Court cases, including the attorneys's briefs and testimony from the trial court records. We will also read interpretive works of history and law, Congressional testimony, and 19th century newspaper reports.

Students will be grouped into six work teams, and each team will take responsibility for studying and presenting a key legal case in a dynamic historical context. Cases include Dred Scott v. Sandford, Prigg v. Pennsylvania, U.S. v. Cruikshank, Hall v. Decuir, Civil Rights Cases, and Plessy v. Ferguson. There will be a midterm exam and a final paper; the reading load is relatively heavy. A draft syllabus may be downloaded from the instructor's website:


3.00 hours