North American Legal History to 1861

History 280D

Fall 2014
2303 Dwinelle
Day & Time: 
Th 10-12P
North American Legal History to 1861
History 280.D
Prof. Rebecca McLennan
Fall 2014
This course is designed especially for graduate students pursuing a second field or dissertation topic in American Legal History, but it is also open to graduate students from other fields and disciplines. It introduces recent and some classic historical scholarship in the field of North American Legal History—broadly defined as histories of legal culture, epistemology, institutions, discourses, practices, instrument of rule, and ideology in British America, the United States, and North America’s colonial borderlands—between 1492 and the Civil War. Of particular concern are the proliferation and trajectory of contending formations of “law” and constitutionalism in the three centuries before the Civil War, and law’s contradictory and constitutive role in the processes of empire-building, colonization (both pre- and post-revolutionary), the so-called “civilizing process,” environmental transformation, and the shift from mercantile to industrial capitalism. Although our geographic focus, like that of much recent historiography, is primarily British colonial America, the antebellum United States, and North America’s colonial borderlands, we will explore these places’ legal cultures in the context of the larger flows of peoples, trade, ideas, and power that shaped (and were shaped by) them. 
Along with a significant reading load (typically books per week), the requirements for this class include thoughtful, respectful, and consistent participation in all class discussions; at least one short writing assignment on one of the common readings; one, brief, in-class presentation and write-up of a recommended text; and a 20-25 page historiography review on a major theme or question in the field. 
Freedom Bound by Christopher Tomlins

Course Books

Freedom Bound by Christopher L. Tomlins Cambridge. ISBN: 978-0521137775 Required
Rites of Execution by Louis P. Masur Oxford. ISBN: 978-0195066630 Required
The Crisis of Imprisonment: Protest, Politics, and the Making of the American Penal System by Rebecca M. McLennan Cambridge. ISBN: 978-0521537834 Required
The Claims of Kinfolk: African American Property and Community in the Nineteenth-Century South by Dylan Penningroth UNC Press. ISBN: 978-0807854761 Required
Double Character: Slavery and Mastery in the Antebellum Southern Courtroom by Ariela J. Gross Princeton. ISBN: 978-0820328607 Required
The Transformation of American Law, 1780-1860 by Morton J. Horwitz Harvard. ISBN: 978-0674903715 Required
Commodity and Propriety by Gregory S. Alexander Chicago. ISBN: 978-0226013541 Required
Justice Accused: Antislavery and the Judicial Process by Robert Cover Yale. ISBN: 978-0300032529 Required
The Oracle and the Curse: A Poetics of Justice from the Revolution to the Civil War by Caleb Smith Harvard. ISBN: 978-0674073081 Required
The People and Their Peace: Legal Culture and the Transformation of Inequality in the Post-Revolutionary South by Laura Edwards UNC Press. ISBN: 978-0807859322 Required
Stephen Wilf by Law’s Imagined Republic Cambridge. ISBN: 978-0521145282 Required
Settler Sovereignty: Jurisdiction and Indigenous People in America and Australia, 1788-1836 by Lisa Ford Harvard. ISBN: 978-0674035652 Required
Colonizing Hawai’i by Sally Engle Merry Princeton. ISBN: 978-0691009322 Required
The Republic Afloat by Matthew Taylor Rafferty Chicago. ISBN: 978-0226924007 Required
Law, Labor, and Ideology in the Early American Republic by Christopher L. Tomlins Cambridge. ISBN: 978-0521438575 Required
Larry Kramer by Larry Kramer Oxford. ISBN: 978-0195306453 Required
Unruly Americans and the Origins of the Constitution by Woody Holton Hill and Wang. ISBN: 978-0809016433 Required
Among the Powers of the Earth: The American Revolution and the Making of a New World Empire by Eliga H. Gould Harvard. ISBN: 978-0674416949 Required
Constituting Empire: New York and the Transformation of Constitutionalism in the Atlantic World by Daniel Hulsebosch UNC Press. ISBN: 978-0807859209 Required
A Search for Sovereignty by Lauren Benton Cambridge. ISBN: 978-0521707435 Required
Ceremonies of Possession by Patricia Seed Cambridge. ISBN: 978-0521497572 Required