Modern American Legal History
This course will introduce students to the major problems and interpretations in the field of American legal history. Through lectures as well as discussions of cases and secondary materials, the course will survey American public and private legal development from the Civil War to the present. The course employs a braided narrative, interweaving (a) the chronological story of the rise of modern legal liberalism and an administrative and regulatory state with (b) a week-to-week sampling of different historical topics, methods, and problematics. Topics to be covered this semester include: the 14th Amendment and the remaking of American citizenship, the rise of the legal profession, classical legal thought, corporation and labor law in the Gilded Age, progressive reform, the origins of civil liberties, New Deal constitutionalism, and the modern civil rights revolution. The course also attempts to introduce some of the theoretical and historiographical perspectives that have fueled recent developments in the field.