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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Michael W Mc Cann
POL S 565
Seattle Campus

Special Topics in Public Law

Examination of current topics on the theory and practice of public law. Content varies according to recent developments in the field and the research interests of the instructor.

Class description

Topic: Rights, Politics and Power Description: This class will examine rights in practical socio-political interaction. We will explore different ways of thinking about rights as social conventions, the variable relations of rights practices to official state policies, and the complex but important ways that rights do or do not matter for disputing practices, interest formation, and identity construction at individual and group levels. In short, we will explore how rights practices figure into the constellation of contested power relations within modern societies.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

The class is structured both to include diverse "must read" writings on the subject and to promote thinking/discussion about new research agendas on related issues. One analytical theme that we will discuss throughout the course concerns the relative logic and merits of studying rights in ways that variously "decenter" state institutions, official law, and even rights practices themselves. As the focus is on familiar liberal traditions of rights, the bulk of the readings will focus on the U.S., although readings about Israel, Japan, China, Canada, Australia, and South Africa (among other nations) are included. The class will provide a complement to Professor Lovells 564 course in winter, but that course is not a prerequisite. The course also should be of interest to political theory students.

Recommended preparation

Texts: Required books include: Bumiller, The Civil Rights Society; McCann, Rights at Work; Engel and Munger, Rights of Inclusion; Failer, Who Qualifies for Rights?; Feldman, The Ritual of Rights in Japan; Barzilai, Communities and Law; Stychin, A Nation by Rights. A host of required essays (including Karl Marx, Patricia Williams, Kimberle Crenshaw, Wendy Brown, Rogers Smith) will be collected in a reader that can be purchased from a local copy center.

Class assignments and grading

Grading: Participation: 10%, 2 short papers: 20%, Seminar paper: 70%.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Additional Information
Last Update by Suman C. Chhabra
Date: 02/24/2005