The Law, Letters, and Society major will resume in Spring Quarter of 2018. This follows an extensive review of the program that has both confirmed the value of the major for the College and the need to enhance the program’s teaching and administrative resources. Given these needs, the faculty have decided not to accept applications to the major until Spring Quarter of 2018, with a new admissions process for members of the Class of 2021. Students admitted through that process will begin the program in Autumn Quarter 2018.
For current majors in the Classes of 2017 and 2018, the major requirements (described below) will remain unchanged. The requirements for the Class of 2021 will be announced before selection of the new cohort. For the coming year, all other students interested in the academic and scholarly study of the law should consult with their individual advisers to discuss complementary programs of study.
Program of Study
The program in Law, Letters, and Society is concerned with law in civilian and customary legal systems, both historically and contemporaneously. The program is designed to develop the student's analytical skills to enable informed and critical examination of law broadly construed. The organizing premise of the program is that law is a tool of social organization and control, not simply an expression of will or aspiration, and that it is best understood by careful study of both rhetorical artifacts and empirical consequences of its application. Program requirements are constructed to support the organizing premise, and, because of the nature of the requirements, transfer students are not eligible to register as Law, Letters, and Society majors.
The program requires course work in three areas, although there is a reasonably broad latitude both expected and permitted in satisfaction of the distributional requirement. There is a substantial writing requirement for all majors; majors are expected to produce substantial written work (sometimes called "the BA Paper") under the close supervision of a faculty member whose area of scholarly concern is related to the broad objectives of the program.
Course work is required in three areas. After successfully completing the Introductory Course, students must take two courses in Letters and two courses in Society. In addition, students must complete six other courses that, while not necessarily offered or listed formally under either rubric, are substantively supportive of the topics, areas, skills, or concerns of the two areas. Courses satisfying the additional requirement are identified on a quarterly basis, and final approval of additional required course work is made by consultation between the student and the program chairman.
The Introductory Course
The Introductory Course establishes the intellectual moorings of the program. The importance of the Introductory Course lies not in its content (indeed, its precise focus and scope may be different from time to time) but on its approach to the nature of law. Recently, for example, the Introductory Course has been LLSO 24200 Legal Reasoning, a study, based primarily on cases, of the classic conventions of legal argument in the Anglo-American legal system. In other years, the Introductory Course might be Roman Law or Greek Law, Medieval Law, or a text-based course on ancient legal philosophy, or a comparison of modern legal categories and policies with those of former societies and cultures. The objective is not so much to establish a historical foundation for modern studies as to demonstrate that legal systems are culturally rooted; that urgent, present concerns may obscure important characteristics of legal ideas and behavior; and that many recurrent themes in Western legal thought are shaped or driven by both common and uncommon features. Unlike many legal studies programs that attempt to orient study of the law primarily in contemporary debates, usually in the field of American constitutional law, the program seeks to organize its exploration of law as a system rather than as a forum or an instrument.
Other Course Work
Students must also take two courses each in the Letters and Society divisions of the program, plus six other courses complementary to the required work, as outlined previously (the other six courses may be ones cross listed in the program or may be from other disciplines). Letters and Society are not meant as fixed or self-defining fields, but instead as organizational categories emphasizing two fundamental modes of examining law in a systemic fashion. Courses under the rubric of Letters (whether based in the program or in English, philosophy, or political theory) tend to be based on the study of literary and historical artifacts, such as cases, tracts, conventional literature, or other texts, and emphasize the ways in which law formally constitutes itself. Questions of interpretative and normative theory, rhetorical strategy, and the like are central to such courses. Society serves to organize studies from a variety of different disciplines (including history, political science, economics, and sociology) that try to measure, with different techniques and at different times, the effect of law on society. The combined objective is to treat law as an intellectual activity and as a phenomenon, and to emphasize that both occur in contexts that help to shape them, whether ancient or modern.
In addition to satisfying the course requirements, each student in the program must produce evidence of sustained research in the form of a substantial research paper during either the junior or senior year and obtain approval of a member of the faculty, although not necessarily a member of the program faculty. Papers may be written in conjunction with Law, Letters, and Society courses, under the auspices of reading and research courses, or in a Research Seminar. (The paper is an independent requirement, however, and need not be accomplished in conjunction with enrollment in a specific course.) The scope, method, and objective of the paper, as well as its length, are subject to negotiation between the student and the instructor.
Summary of Requirements
|LLSO 24200||Legal Reasoning (Introductory Course)||100|
|Two Letters courses (List II)||200|
|Two Society courses (List III)||200|
|Six Complementary courses *||600|
Complementary courses are courses from other departments that support work done in the major. Some students prefer to concentrate their work on a specific issue or problem, e.g., urban politics and policy, historic societal discrimination, or the role of international institutions in policy implementation. Other students prefer to examine a series of discrete topics that are not directly related but that concern the operation of regimes of social control. Lists of Pre-Approved Complementary Courses are published quarterly, and students who believe that a course not so listed nonetheless supports work in the major may petition the program chair for approval at any time while enrolled in the course or within one quarter of completing the course. Courses taken in Autumn Quarter of the second year simultaneously with the Introductory Course may count as Complementary Courses.
Students who wish to be considered for honors must notify the program chairman and their faculty supervisor in writing no later than two quarters before the quarter in which they expect to receive their degree. Eligible students must maintain a GPA of at least 3.50 both overall and in the major, and they must write a distinguished research paper. The paper must be submitted by noon on Friday of fifth week in the quarter of proposed graduation (other papers must be submitted by noon on Friday of seventh week), and the student's faculty supervisor and a second reader must agree that honors are merited. It should be noted that honors are awarded sparingly.
Reading and Research Courses
For students with a legitimate interest in pursuing study that cannot be met by means of regular courses, there is an option of devising a reading and research course to be supervised by a member of the faculty and taken for a quality grade. Such courses may not be used to satisfy the requirements of either the two-course Letters or two-course Society requirements, but may be used to satisfy part of the other six required courses, with the written permission of the program chairman obtained in advance of initiation of the work. Only two research courses may be used within the major. LLSO 29400 Research Seminar may also be used as one of the six Complementary Courses.
Two of the six complementary courses required in the program may, with consent of instructor, be taken for P/F grading. Students who enroll in LLSO 29400 Research Seminar, offered annually, are graded on a P/F basis, and the seminar counts as one of the two P/F-graded complementary courses.
Students who wish to major in Law, Letters, and Society must register for LLSO 24200 Legal Reasoning in Autumn Quarter of their second year. This requirement is not negotiable. Students should note that, as an interdisciplinary major, the program has a strictly limited enrollment and that registration for the Introductory Course is determined during the preceding Spring Quarter. Upon deciding to major in Law, Letters, and Society, students should arrange to consult with the program chairman on their course of study in the program. Students should continue to consult with their College advisers on general education degree requirements.
Course Distribution Lists
I. The Introductory Course
|Legal Reasoning (Not offered Autumn 2017)|
|American Revolution, 1763 to 1789|
|Machiavelli: The Prince and Discourses|
|Topics in Judicial Studies|
|Free Speech and the First Amendment|
|Introduction to Political Philosophy|
|History of Information|
|American Law and the Rhetoric of Race|
|Lincoln: Slavery, War, and the Constitution|
|Human Rights: Contemporary Issues|
|Human Rights: Philosophical Foundations|
|Health and Human Rights|
|The Political Nature of the American Judicial System|
|U.S. Environmental Policy|
|Economics and Environmental Policy|
|Insurgency, Terrorism, and Civil War|
|Histories of Violence in the United States|
|Media Ecology: Embodiment and Software|
|Democracy and the Politics of Wealth Redistribution|
|United States Labor History|
|Youth Law and Policy: Child Welfare and Juv. Just. in the U.S.|
IV. Research and Reading
Law, Letters, and Society Courses
LLSO 20019. Mesopotamian Law. 100 Units.
NEHC 30019. Mesopotamian Law (= LLSO 20019; SIGN 26002). Ancient Mesopotamia -- the home of the Sumerians, Babylonians, and Assyrians who wrote in cuneiform script on durable clay tablets -- was the locus of many of history’s “firsts.” No development, however, may be as important as the formations of legal systems and legal principles revealed in contracts, trial records, and law collections (“codes”), among which “The Laws of Hammurabi” (r. 1792-1750 BC) stands as most important for understanding subsequent legal practice and thought of Mesopotamia’s cultural heirs in the Middle East and Europe until today. This course will explore the rich source materials of the Laws and relevant judicial and administration documents (all in English translations) to investigate topics of legal, social, and economic practice including family formation and dissolution, crime and punishment (sympathetic or talionic “eye for an eye,” pecuniary, corporal), and procedure (contracts, trials, ordeals).
Instructor(s): Martha Roth Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): NEHC 20019,SIGN 26022,NEHC 30019
LLSO 20116. Global-Local Politics. 100 Units.
Globalizing and local forces are generating a new politics in the United States and around the world. This course explores this new politics by mapping its emerging elements: the rise of social issues, ethno-religious and regional attachments, environmentalism, gender and life-style identity issues, new social movements, transformed political parties and organized groups, and new efforts to mobilize individual citizens.
Instructor(s): T. Clark Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): HMRT 20116,HMRT 30116,PBPL 27900,SOCI 30116,SOCI 20116
LLSO 20601. American Revolution, 1763 to 1789. 100 Units.
This lecture and discussion course explores the background of the American Revolution and the problem of organizing a new nation. The first half of the course uses the theory of revolutionary stages to organize a framework for the events of the 1760s and 1770s, and the second half of the course examines the period of constitution making (1776–1789) for evidence on the ways in which the Revolution was truly revolutionary.
Instructor(s): E. Cook Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): HIST 35300,HIST 25300
LLSO 21001. Human Rights: Contemporary Issues. 100 Units.
This interdisciplinary course presents an overview of several major contemporary human rights problems as a means to explore the use of human rights norms and mechanisms. The course addresses the roles of states, inter-governmental bodies, national courts, civil society actors including NGOs, victims, and their families, and other non-state actors. Topics are likely to include universalism, enforceability of human rights norms, the prohibition against torture, U.S. exceptionalism, and the rights of women, racial minorities, and non-citizens.
Instructor(s): S. Gzesh Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): LACS 21001,LACS 31001,HIST 29304,HIST 39304,LAWS 43245,HMRT 31001,HMRT 21001
LLSO 21002. Human Rights: Philosophical Foundations. 100 Units.
Human rights are claims of justice that hold merely in virtue of our shared humanity. In this course we will explore philosophical theories of this elementary and crucial form of justice. Among topics to be considered are the role that dignity and humanity play in grounding such rights, their relation to political and economic institutions, and the distinction between duties of justice and claims of charity or humanitarian aid. Finally we will consider the application of such theories to concrete, problematic and pressing problems, such as global poverty, torture and genocide. (A) (I)
Instructor(s): B. Laurence Terms Offered: Spring
Note(s): Undergrads enroll in sections 01 through 06. Graduates enroll in section 07.
Equivalent Course(s): PHIL 21002,PHIL 31002,HIST 29319,HIST 39319,MAPH 42002,LAWS 97119,HMRT 31002,INRE 31602,HMRT 21002
LLSO 21603. Machiavelli and Machiavellism. 100 Units.
This course is a comprehensive introduction to Machiavelli’s The Prince in light of his vast and varied literary corpus and European reception. The course includes discussion of Machiavelli as playwright (The Mandrake), fiction writer (Belfagor, The Golden Ass), and historian (Discourses, Florentine Histories). We will also closely investigate the emergence of myths surrounding Machiavelli (Machiavellism and anti-Machiavellism) in Italy (Guicciardini, Botero, Boccalini), France (Bodin and Gentillet), Spain (Ribadeneyra), and Northern Europe (Hobbes, Grotius, Spinoza) during the Counter Reformation and beyond.
Instructor(s): R. Rubini Terms Offered: Spring
Note(s): Course conducted in English. Those seeking Italian credit will do all work in Italian.
Equivalent Course(s): CMLT 25801,FNDL 21603,ITAL 23000
LLSO 22401. Topics in Judicial Studies. 100 Units.
This seminar examines three topics in current judicial studies: the appointment process, judicial reputation, and ideological “drift.” Two short papers are required. Seminar.
Instructor(s): Dennis Hutchinson Terms Offered: Autumn
Prerequisite(s): Consent only
LLSO 22403. Free Speech and the First Amendment. 100 Units.
This course will examine the Supreme Court's First Amendment jurisprudence, focusing on such issues as speech critical of the government, the hostile audience, classified information, libel, commercial advertising, obscenity, symbolic expression, campaign finance regulation and the freedom of the press
Instructor(s): Geoffrey Stone Terms Offered: Winter
LLSO 22612. Introduction to Political Philosophy. 100 Units.
In this course we will investigate what it is for a society to be just. In what sense are the members of a just society equal? What freedoms does a just society protect? Must a just society be a democracy? What economic arrangements are compatible with justice? In the second portion of the course we will consider one pressing injustice in our society in light of our previous philosophical conclusions. Possible candidates include, but are not limited to, racial inequality, economic inequality, and gender hierarchy. Here our goal will be to combine our philosophical theories with empirical evidence in order to identify, diagnose, and effectively respond to actual injustice. (A)
Instructor(s): B. Laurence Terms Offered: Spring
Note(s): Students should register via discussion section.
Equivalent Course(s): GNSE 21601,PLSC 22600,PHIL 21600
LLSO 23100. Environmental Law. 100 Units.
This lecture/discussion course examines the development of laws and legal institutions that address environmental problems and advance environmental policies. Topics include the common law background to traditional environmental regulation, the explosive growth and impact of federal environmental laws in the second half of the twentieth century, regulations and the urban environment, and the evolution of local and national legal structures in response to environmental challenges.
Instructor(s): R. Lodato Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): Third- or fourth-year standing, or consent of instructor
Equivalent Course(s): ENST 23100,PBPL 23100
LLSO 23501. History of Information. 100 Units.
"Information" in all its forms is perhaps the defining phenomenon of our age. But although we tend to think of it as something distinctively modern, in fact it came into being through a long history of thought, practice, and technology. This course will therefore suggest how to think historically about information. Using examples that range from the Middle Ages to the twenty-first century, we shall explore how different societies have conceptualized the subject, and how they have sought to control it. We shall address how information has been collected, classified, circulated, contested, and destroyed. The aim is to provide a different kind of understanding of information practices—one that can be put to use in other historical inquiries, as well as casting an unfamiliar light on our own everyday lives.
Instructor(s): A. Johns Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): CHSS 35415,HIST 35415,HIPS 25415,HIST 25415
LLSO 24011. The Political Nature of the American Judicial System. 100 Units.
The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the political nature of the American judicial system. In examining foundational parts of the political science literature on courts understood as political institutions, the course will focus on the relationship between courts, other political institutions, and the broader society. The sorts of questions to be asked include: Are there interests that courts are particularly prone to support? What factors influence judicial decision-making? Are judicial decisions influenced by public opinion? What effects do congressional or executive actions have on court decisions? What impact do court decisions have? While the answers will not always be clear, students should complete the course with an awareness of and sensitivity to the political nature of the American judicial system. The course is not case-based. No prior knowledge of the judicial system is necessary.
Instructor(s): G. Rosenberg Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): PLSC 42515,PLSC 22515
LLSO 24200. Legal Reasoning. 100 Units.
This course introduces legal reasoning in a customary legal system. The first part examines the analytical conventions that lawyers and judges purport to use. The second part examines fundamental tenets of constitutional interpretation. Both judicial decisions and commentary are used, although the case method is emphasized.
Instructor(s): D. Hutchinson Terms Offered: Autumn. Not offered Autumn 2017.
Prerequisite(s): Open only to second-year students who are beginning the LLSO major.
LLSO 24300. American Law and the Rhetoric of Race. 100 Units.
This course examines the ways American law has treated legal issues involving race. Two episodes are studied in detail: the criminal law of slavery during the antebellum period and the constitutional attack on state‐imposed segregation in the twentieth century. The case method is used, although close attention is paid to litigation strategy and judicial opinion.
Instructor(s): D. Hutchinson Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): LAWS 59800,LAWS 49801
LLSO 24711. Lincoln: Slavery, War, and the Constitution. 100 Units.
This course is a study of Abraham Lincoln’s view of the Constitution, based on close readings of his writings, plus comparisons to judicial responses to Lincoln’s policies.
Instructor(s): D. Hutchinson Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): Consent of instructor
Equivalent Course(s): FNDL 24711,HIST 27102
LLSO 24901. U.S. Environmental Policy. 100 Units.
Environmental policy is the product of political, historical, economic, and cultural factors that lead to certain outcomes (and not others). This course will examine each of these factors and their importance in shaping the environmental policies that exist in the United States, with consideration of both public lands and pollution control policies, as well as the theoretical underpinnings of environmental activism and policymaking.
Instructor(s): R. Lodato Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): ENST 24701,PBPL 24701
LLSO 26201. Economics and Environmental Policy. 100 Units.
This course combines basic microeconomic theory and tools with contemporary environmental and resources issues and controversies to examine and analyze public policy decisions. Theoretical points include externalities, public goods, common-property resources, valuing resources, benefit/cost analysis, and risk assessment. Topics include pollution, global climate change, energy use and conservation, recycling and waste management, endangered species and biodiversity, nonrenewable resources, congestion, economic growth and the environment, and equity impacts of public policies.
Instructor(s): S. Shaikh Terms Offered: Autumn
Prerequisite(s): ECON 19800 or higher, or PBPL 20000
Equivalent Course(s): PBPL 21800,ENST 21800
LLSO 26203. American Legal Culture. 100 Units.
This seminar examines how the values and norms of American Legal Culture are constructed through both the experiences of the general public and socialization of key actors in institutions such as law schools/firms, popular media, courts, police, and jails/prisons. Sessions combine discussion of relevant literature with presentations by Chicago-area experts from these various institutions. Seminar participants conduct fieldwork in related sites in the Chicago area, presenting the results of their research projects in the final session(s) of the course.
Instructor(s): M. Fred Terms Offered: TBD
Prerequisite(s): Third- or fourth-year standing for undergraduates
Equivalent Course(s): LAWS 93801,MAPS 46701,SOSC 30416,ANTH 30415
LLSO 26802. Public Opinion. 100 Units.
What is the relationship between the mass citizenry and government in the U.S.? Does the public meet the conditions for a functioning democratic polity? This course considers the origins of mass opinion about politics and public policy, including the role of core values and beliefs, information, expectations about political actors, the mass media, economic self-interest, and racial attitudes. This course also examines problems of political representation, from the level of political elites communicating with constituents, and from the possibility of aggregate representation.
Instructor(s): J. Brehm Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): PLSC 22400
LLSO 26804. Insurgency, Terrorism, and Civil War. 100 Units.
This course provides an introduction to asymmetric and irregular warfare. From Colombia to Afghanistan, non-state armed organizations are crucially important actors. We will study how they organize themselves, extract resources, deploy violence, attract recruits, and both fight and negotiate with states. We will also examine government counterinsurgency and counterterrorism policies, peace-building after conflict, and international involvement in internal wars. Case materials will be drawn from a variety of conflicts and cover a number of distinct topics. This course has a heavy reading load, and both attendance and substantial participation in weekly discussion sections are required.
Instructor(s): P. Staniland Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): PLSC 26800
LLSO 27012. Histories of Violence in the United States. 100 Units.
How does violence change life stories and national narratives? How can a nation remember and retell obscured histories of violence, reconcile past violence, and resist future violence? What does it mean that lynching emerged at the same moment as the Bill of Rights and that certain kinds of violence have been central to American identity? The story of the United States is built on the inclusion or omission of violence: from the genocide of Native Americans to slavery to imperial conquest, from the "private" pain of women to the nationalized pain of soldiers. This course brings violence to the center of US history. Moving from early America to the present, we will discuss these overlapping stories in terms of their visibility and invisibility, addressing questions of representation and the haunting function of traumatic experience. Following an emerging subfield of scholarship in histories of violence, this course examines narrative, archival, and political issues around studying, teaching, and writing such stories. The final project emphasizes public history.
Instructor(s): K. Belew Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): Basic working knowledge of US history or be prepared to do extra reading.
Equivalent Course(s): AMER 27012,HIST 27012
LLSO 27801. Media Ecology: Embodiment and Software. 100 Units.
Media ecology examines how the structure and content of our media environments—online and offline, in words, images, sounds, and textures—affect human perception, understanding, feeling, and value; or alternatively, media ecology investigates the massive and dynamic interrelation of processes and objects, beings and things, patterns and matter. At stake are issues about agency—human or material—and about determinism—how does society or culture interact with or shape its technologies, or vice versa? This course investigates theories of media ecology by exploring systems of meanings that humans embody (cultural, social, ecological) in conjunction with the emerging field of software studies about the cultural, political, social, and aesthetic impacts of software (e.g., code, interaction, interface). In our actual and virtual environments, how do we understand performing our multiple human embodiments in relation to other bodies (organism or machine) in pursuit of social or political goals?
Instructor(s): M. Browning Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): CMST 25204,HIPS 25203,TAPS 28452,HUMA 25202
LLSO 28010. United States Legal History. 100 Units.
This course focuses on the connections between law and society in modern America. It explores how legal doctrines and constitutional rules have defined individual rights and social relations in both the public and private spheres. It also examines political struggles that have transformed American law. Topics to be addressed include the meaning of rights; the regulation of property, work, race, and sexual relations; civil disobedience; and legal theory as cultural history. Readings include legal cases, judicial rulings, short stories, and legal and historical scholarship.
Instructor(s): A. Stanley Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): AMER 27605,CRES 27605,GNSE 27605,HMRT 27061,HIST 27605
LLSO 28710. Democracy and the Politics of Wealth Redistribution. 100 Units.
How do political institutions affect the redistribution of wealth among members of a society? In most democracies, the distribution of wealth among citizens is unequal but the right to vote is universal. Why then have so many newly democratic states transitioned under conditions of high inequality yet failed to redistribute? This course explores this puzzle by analyzing the mechanisms through which individual and group preferences can be translated into pro-poor policies, and the role elites play in influencing a government's capacity or incentives to redistribute wealth. Topics include economic inequality and the demand for redistribution, the difference in redistribution between democracy and dictatorship, the role of globalization in policymaking, and the effects of redistribution on political stability and change.
Instructor(s): M. Albertus Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): PLSC 28710
LLSO 28802. United States Labor History. 100 Units.
This course will explore the history of labor and laboring people in the United States. The significance of work will be considered from the vantage points of political economy, culture, and law. Key topics will include working-class life, industrialization and corporate capitalism, slavery and emancipation, the role of the state and trade unions, and race and sex difference in the workplace.
Instructor(s): A. Stanley Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): GNSE 28802,HIST 28802
LLSO 29050. Youth Law and Policy: Child Welfare and Juv. Just. in the U.S. 100 Units.
This course explores how legal institutions protect and punish children in the United States. We will spend the first part of the course exploring the child welfare system, which purports to protect children from abuse and neglect through various mechanisms including foster care and the termination of parental rights. We will spend the second part of the course exploring the juvenile justice system, which purports to prosecute and rehabilitate children for their criminal acts in a system separate from the criminal justice system. In the final part of the course, we will consider special topics in this area of law and policy including “cross-over youth” (i.e. children involved in both systems), unaccompanied immigrant children, homeless and runaway youth, and the so-called “school-to-prison-pipeline.” This course will place special emphasis on the judges, lawyers, law enforcement officers, and social workers that comprise these legal institutions.
Instructor(s): Andrew Hammond Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): HMRT 29050,PBPL 29050
LLSO 29400. Research Seminar. 100 Units.
A seminar for students preparing BA papers in LLSO.
Instructor(s): D. Hutchinson Terms Offered: Autumn