Course - Law


Recommended Courses:



This course will provide an introduction to the history of American legal theory from the late 19th century through the 20th century.  This period proved an extraordinary time for American law.  The Industrial Age, Great Depression, World War II, the Civil Rights Movement, the Vietnam War, and other epochal events spurred major changes to how lawyers, judges, and scholars understood the role of law in politics and society.  This course will study the major schools of American legal theory and how legal theory evolved in response to upheaval in American government and society.  Students will learn about the rise and fall of the major modern theoretical approaches to the law, including legal formalism, legal realism, legal process, critical legal studies, and how each approach’s fate fit into broader currents in American history. 


Required: Fisher, Horwitz, Reed, American Legal Realism, (Oxford University Press, 1993)

For each class, students will read a set of excerpts from articles of the era under study.  Many of these articles proved extremely influential in shaping how judges, lawyers, and scholars understood the role of law in the political and social life of the 20th century. 

Course Format

Primarily lecture, with classroom discussion as well. One 100-minute class per week.

Written Assignments

Occasional short written assignments.

Students will have the option of writing a 25-35 page paper in lieu of the exam.

Type of Exam

Most likely a 24-hour take-home essay exam.

Basis for grading

Exam or paper

Additional Comments  
Print this Course Description