This offering meets 2 hours per week, but is worth 3 points of credit. The additional point of credit reflects the instructor's certification that the course assignments require student engagement and responsibilities beyond that found in a two hour lecture course.
This seminar will exam the relation between legal decision and larger event in major trials that capture the communal imagination. The emphasis will be on the tensions between levels of discourse from indictment to court transcript to judicial decision and on to newspaper report, editorial comment, blog, journal description, and fictional or dramatic account. At issue will be the way courtroom events reflect communal anxieties even as they also gauge and sometimes change ideological aspirations in a culture.
Readings in the seminar will include the trials of John Scopes, Homer Plessy, the Scottsboro defendants, Oscar Wilde, and Adolf Eichmann, as well as a series of seduction-murder cases, an important custody battle, a court-martial hearing, and an environmental law case?all with related texts.
REQUIRED TEXTS. (Available through Book Culture: 536 W. 112th Street.)
1. Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee, Inherit the Wind (Bantam Paperback).
2. David R. Kasserman, Fall River Outrage: Life, Murder, and Justice in Early Industrial New England (University of Pennsylvania Paperback)
3. Michael Grossberg, A Judgment for Solomon: The D?Hauteville Case and Legal Experience in
Antebellum America (Cambridge University Press Paperback)
4. Brook Thomas, ed., Plessy v. Ferguson: A Brief History with Documents (Bedford/Saint Martins paperback).
5. Craig Brandon, Murder in the Adirondacks (North Country Paperback).
6. Moises Kaufman, Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde (Random House: Vintage Paperback)
7. Dan T. Carter, Scottsboro: A Tragedy of the American South, rev. ed. (Louisiana State University Press Paperback).
8. Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem (Penguin Paperback)
9. Jonathan Harr, A Civil Action (Random House: Vintage Paperback)
10. Robert A. Ferguson, The Trial in American Life (Chicago: University of Chicago Press).
11. Xeroxed packet of materials.
1. Reading and preparation in accordance with the schedule.
2. Informed and constructive participation in all seminar meetings.
3. Occasional individual class assignments.
4. Two page summary of projected paper topic - due date in October to be announced.
5. Short report on work in progress late in the semester.
6. A twenty page seminar paper on a topic that has been approved by the instructor is due on or before the last day of classes.