course description | the
books | papers & daily assignments | grading
How effective is
the Supreme Court at changing societal values? Did Roe v. Wade or
Brown v. Board of Education make a difference in how we think
about reproduction or race? This class considers law's capacity to institute
social changes. Some of our considerations will be structural - what
is it about our American political system that constrains or allows
for radical change? Some of our considerations will be historical -
how was a liberal system able to legitimize slavery for so long? Others
of our considerations will be philosophical - what is it about our minds
that prevents or permits a change of values?
The Hollow Hope
Robert Cover, Justice Accused
Jonathan Kozol, Savage Inequalities
Kristen Luker, Abortion & the Politics of Motherhood
Lawrence Tribe, Abortion: The Clash of Absolutes
Dorothy Roberts, Killing the Black Body
and daily assignments:
For the first two-thirds
of the semester, you will bring to each class a one-page (double-spaced)
essay in which you explore a passage from the day's reading. On Mondays,
you'll exchange the essay with a classmate. On Thursdays, you'll hand
in an essay that engages with both the reading and your classmate's
essay. This means that you can't afford to blow off an assignment. First,
it will jeopardize someone else's process. Second, it will jeopardize
your standing in the class.
Along with these
short essays, you'll also be growing two five-page essays and one extended
essay. The five-page essay might be an extended argument, or a meditation,
or maybe just a rant. The ten-page essay should be beyond one position,
one side, or one solution. It should be an experiment in multiplicity,
of weighing and considering various positions, of moving out of polemics
and into the hallowed halls of philosophy, of thinking beyond your personal
preferences and into a larger synthetic whole.
Show up. Write.
Read with a pen in your hand. Have a thesauraus near by. Let your brain
stretch in new directions. Consider changing a deeply-held belief. Be
a pro-life advocate for a day. Stand up against busing for an hour.
Let yourself change your mind and then take notes on that very dangerous
Students who miss
more than two classes will see a drop in their grade. Failing to pass
in one of the three essays translates into a D. Don't take this class
if you can't stay on top of the daily assignments.