law through literature

course description
An exploration of concepts of justice, higher law, customary law and written law expressed through works of fiction and non-fiction. The course seeks to enhance the student’s sensitivity to issues of ethics, gender bias and class consciousness as they affect the administration of justice. Readings improve communication skills and strengthen legal skills of identifying, articulating and locating problems in the context of underlying legal issues. Written assignments emphasize expository writing skills.

This course focuses on the legal history of oppression in America. With context like archival artifacts, court cases, and historical timelines, we will answer question like: how does the misogyny that underlaid the Salem Witch Trials structure how we treat women accusers in the #MeToo era? How does the legal legacy of slavery, like anti-miscegenation and Jim Crow laws, contribute to mass incarceration today? How has the War on Drugs been weaponized by various institutions (the state, Big Pharma, hospitals) to proliferate racism, classism, sexism, and homophobia? This is an upper-division and writing-intensive course; as such, you will spend a great deal of time reading and analyzing readings in this class. While we’ll spend class time working on larger assignments, you are expected to budget the workload of this class into your weekly schedule.

Students will complete three interdisciplinary projects and several short traditional writing assignments. Readings will include Maryse Condé’s I, Tituba: Black Witch of Salem, Miné Okubo’s Citizen 13660, and Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing, in addition to a selection of short stories.

Available upon request.