This seminar explores the growing field of Critical Race Theory in U.S. legal studies. Contrary to conventional understandings of racial subordination as a deviation from liberal ideals, this class analyzes the centrality of U.S. law in producing race and racial difference, as well as other social hierarchies of gender, sexuality, and class. Throughout the semester, we will mostly read primary legal texts (juridical decisions, legislative acts, international treaties), law review articles, and critical essays. However, we will also examine these materials in relation to a number of cultural productions (novels and films) in order to rethink the political and aesthetic limits of some key concepts attached to myths of U.S. exceptionalism: colorblindness, property, citizenship, sovereignty, privacy, and intimacy. Finally, we will pay special attention to both the political and the psychic economy of law by focusing on reparation and transitional justice in legal as well as psychoanalytic theory.
Undergraduates are not permitted to take 700-level courses.