Saturday, January 7, 2012

law, labor, and capitalism syllabus

American shoemakers in the late-18th century.
Image source:
Here is a link to the "Law, Labor, and Capitalism in U.S. History" course which I plan to teach this semester.

I steered the course at various points more towards social and political history than what might be seen as standard for a legal studies course. I did this for two reasons.

  • The course is directed at juniors and I had trouble finding "digestible" material on labor law history for students who do not have a strong background in legal concepts. 
  • A study of social protests and political consciousness of labor can give a valuable perspective into the particular issues workers had with the law as well as how they sought to amend their position. Sometimes, legal history gets wrapped up in the evolution of rules and norms that have little to no impact on how social conflict is instigated or resolved through the law. My course represents an attempt to bring law and labor closer to each other.

Here is a good resource for constructing a legal history syllabus.


  1. This looks like a really cool class Daniel, makes me pine for the days of being an undergrad at UMass!

  2. Wish you were there, too! Hope the teaching gig is going well for you. Take care.