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College of Law

Race, Gender and the Law

Course Number: 6915
Professor: J. Bridgeman
Credit Hours & Type of Credit: 3
Semester Offered: Fall 2019
Required: No
Recommended Courses:

Course Overview:

The founding documents of the American legal and political system encapsulate, espouse and support the ideas of equality, freedom, and liberty. Yet, many laws passed by the American colonies decades before those colonies became the United State of American dealt with issues of race and gender. These early laws defined who belonged to which races and the consequences of such categorization and set the place for women in society. Accordingly, issues of race and gender in American society are intimately intertwined with law and the American legal system and were part of our history over 100 years before the formation of the United States. Historically, the law has been crucial to our understanding of race and gender and what that means to society. Over time the law has served as both a tool of oppression and of liberation. At the same time, the struggle for equality and freedom by different racial groups, women, and members of the LGBTQ+ community have helped us develop our understanding of, and have refined our commitment to, the founding principles of equality, liberty, and freedom.

Throughout this course we will explore the extremely complex and rich relationship between the law, race, and gender. The first half of the semester will provide a historical overview of these issues and explore the legal structures, theories, and policies that affect issues of race and gender in American Society. In the second half of the semester we will take that knowledge and apply it to contemporary issues of race and gender with an eye towards better understanding and seeking solutions for current problems and challenges.

This course takes a community of scholars approach meaning that the basis of learning is class engagement and discussion for which all class members are responsible. There will be weekly readings provided on-line, short writing assignments (of 1-2 pages) required periodically throughout the semester, a short in-class presentation, and a take home final. It is expected that through this work, students will leave the course with a firm grounding and understanding of the many laws and legal structures that affect and inform race and gender issues, and will be able to use that understanding to assess and address contemporary issues related to the same. This class is open to law students, master’s students, and senior level undergraduates upon permission of the instructor.

Course Materials: See the current Book List located under Courses and Curriculum.
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