North American Legal History to 1861
General Catalog Course Title:
Advanced Studies: Sources/General Literature of the Several Fields
Terms Offered:
Fall 2016
Spring 2016
Fall 2014
Course Thread: 
Law & Humanities
Instructor: 
McLennan, Rebecca

 This course is designed especially for graduate students pursuing a second field or dissertation topic in American Legal History, but it is also open to graduate students from other fields and disciplines. It introduces recent and some classic historical scholarship in the field of North American Legal History—broadly defined as histories of legal culture, epistemology, institutions, discourses, practices, instrument of rule, and ideology in British America, the United States, and North America’s colonial borderlands—between 1492 and the Civil War. Of particular concern are the proliferation and trajectory of contending formations of “law” and constitutionalism in the three centuries before the Civil War, and law’s contradictory and constitutive role in the processes of empire-building, colonization (both pre- and post-revolutionary), the so-called “civilizing process,” environmental transformation, and the shift from mercantile to industrial capitalism. Although our geographic focus, like that of much recent historiography, is primarily British colonial America, the antebellum United States, and North America’s colonial borderlands, we will explore these places’ legal cultures in the context of the larger flows of peoples, trade, ideas, and power that shaped (and were shaped by) them.

For more detailed information about classes, please visit the UC Berkeley Online Schedule of Classes.