The purposes of this seminar are several. First, it seeks to provide a deeper, more contextualized study for some of the cases and topics that students are likely to have encountered in Constitutional Law I and (for those who have taken it) Constitutional Law II. At the same time, it will include discussion of topics that are seldom treated as central to American constitutional development. Second, it will introduce students to current developments in American constitutional history, a once-moribund scholarly field that has recently been revived by fresh interpretations of some familiar topics. The seminar will thus provide illustrations of how the “historiography” of a field like constitutional history develops – how historical interpretations with respect to a particular theme or episode wax and wane over time. Third, through a series of short papers, this seminar will give substantial attention to criticism of students’ expository writing. Among the topics that may be covered are the new scholarship on Marbury v. Madison and the origins of judicial review; the Electoral College and presidential succession; the Constitution and American slavery; the extraterritorial reach of the U.S. Constitution; so-called “Lochner revisionism”; state sovereign immunity and the Eleventh Amendment; Reconstruction and American constitutionalism; new perspectives on the “Civil Rights Revolution”; and others. Enrollment is limited to twelve (12) students and is by permission of the instructor. Open to qualified graduate students in History.
Topics in American Constitutional History
Constitutional & Public Law