Law, Society & State: Critical Race Theory

Quick Info
(3520L.03)  Seminar
Professor S. Lawrence
3 credit(s)  3 hour(s);
The seminar will be taught in three-hour classes in a nine-week period for a total of twenty-seven hours beginning the week of January 15, 2024.

Note: This seminar is not available to students who completed Law & Social Change: Critical Race Theory (LW 2750X.03).
Upper Year Research & Writing Requirement

One way of describing critical race theory (CRT), a body of work which began in the 1980s, is to say it aims to expose and explain the role of law in creating and sustaining societal structures of race and racial oppression. In this model, in contrast to the more liberal civil rights model, law is understood to be the problem, not the solution. Scholars also often describe CRT as praxis, theory that exists in how it is enacted. In this seminar, we will read key early texts from the originators of CRT and then consider more recent scholarship. Our goal will include exploring the utility of CRT as a way of understanding law and our relationship to it. Students should expect to engage with scholarly proposals and prescriptions, to understand internal and external critiques of CRT as theory and method, and to determine how and why something should be – or not be – considered part of the CRT tradition. We will carefully consider the role of the lawyer if the legal system is part of the support structure for racial inequality. Members of the seminar will be expected to engage both in class and in the form of weekly small exercises, and the classroom time will focus on efforts to carefully and deliberately consider the theory and its application, and to discern with precision zones of uncertainty and disagreement. Guest speakers including practicing lawyers will visit this classroom to discuss their experiences and teach from their expertise. This class will feature guidance through the stages of writing a research paper, including developing a research question, preliminary research, organization and argument.