Timothy A Deak
Focused, comparative examination of legal institutions.
As recent U.S. debates concerning same-sex marriage and immigration attest, the law is a venue where heated struggles for power take place. These debates, and many more like them, define how the law and power intersect—in ways that drive social movements and ensure social control. This course will focus on the interplay between law and power, by addressing the following questions: How might we understand what law and power are, and how do they co-operate? How effective is the law for achieving social change? How does the law enforce social control and other punishments? In what ways does power make itself felt outside the law, if at all?
Our approach to law and power will be derived from political theory and law and society scholarship—the readings, topics, and discussions will take place on both abstract and empirical levels. Students will utilize the abstract lenses they acquire to examine empirical cases “on the ground.” In other words, students will use their growing abstract knowledge of how law and power operate to look more closely at the political and social worlds they inhabit.
Student learning goals
The primary goal of this course is to introduce students to scholarly texts that address how law and power interact, focusing on what law and power are, and how they operate in the social world.
Students will become active readers—to examine texts for specific themes and questions. We will examine the ways in which texts that do not overtly discuss questions of law and power implicitly develop ideas about it.
Students will gain an understanding of the arguments made in academic texts, begin to understand the rhetorical strategies by which scholars make their arguments, and will develop the skills to evaluate those arguments critically.
Students will learn to express their positions clearly, both orally and in writing, and to engage in dialogue with others about these positions.
General method of instruction
Lecture, class discussion, films.
Class assignments and grading
1. Response papers. Students will write a one page, double-spaced response paper for the day’s readings indicated in the syllabus. These papers will be tallied—not graded—and will account for 20% of the course grade. 2. Two course exams. The first exam will take place in class, the final exam is take-home. The first exam will account for 30% of your overall course grade; the Final Exam will account for 40%. 3. Class participation. Participation will account for 10% of your overall grade.