Case studies provide a means of exploring how society and law interact with one another. Sometimes a case study shows how law responds to social forces, sometimes it reveals the ways in which law shapes society, and sometimes a close look at a single case exposes a complicated, interactive dynamic between the two. The lessons case studies teach are useful for lawyers and historians, since they help both see law in context. In this seminar, we will be looking at case studies from various moments in history, and writing our own. In the process, we will learn quite a bit about how and why legal historians study the role of law, think about ways in which lawyers can use the tools of history in their work, and consider the different ways in which we can present the fruits of our study. Each student in the seminar will pick a case on any topic and any period in US history, and then work with the rest of the class to create a history of that case over the course of the semester.
For law students, this seminar will fulfill the writing requirement. For history students, or other graduate students, this course may count towards the Digital Humanities Certificate.