Law & Humanities

UC Berkeley undergraduates interested in the Law & Humanities Course Thread should contact Professor Marianne Constable 
(constable@berkeley.edu) of the Department of Rhetoric.

Understanding what justice demands requires struggling with basic questions of form, history, interpretation, memory, emotion, and value that are sometimes given short shrift in more empirically-oriented approaches to law. This Course Thread makes participants aware of the importance of the humanities – and, in particular, issues of textuality and of belonging – in relation to questions of law and literature, law and history, law and philosophy, law and music, and law and the visual arts. Through this Thread, we consider what law is and where it resides. The Course Thread allows students to interrogate formal texts of law as well as the intellectual and cultural contexts through which law has become the multiplicitous kind of practice and knowledge that it is.

This Course Thread challenges students to consider the relationship between law and the humanities, broadly conceived. While many undergraduates assume that Legal Studies is the only department to which they can turn to find coursework engaged with questions of law, this Course Thread will enable students to navigate humanities-based courses concerned with justice and jurisprudence across several departments. While law today is increasingly bound to policy making and to economic and statistical methods and frameworks, law remains an essentially interpretive intellectual and social practice as conceptualized by cultural theorists such as Bronislaw Malinowski and Stuart Hall (taught in Anthropology and Ethnic Studies), by philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle (taught in Philosophy and Political Science), by social theorists such as Vico and Montesquieu (taught in Rhetoric and French), by novelists such as Dostoyevsky and Erdrich (taught in Slavic and English), and in films such as Touch of Evil and The Passion of Joan of Arc (taught in Film and Media Studies and Scandinavian Studies). 

 

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