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Gender and the Law

This course is intended as a survey of how law has reflected and created distinctions on the basis of gender and sexuality throughout American history. We'll look at legal categories of gender and sexuality that have governed (and, often, continue to govern) the household (including marriage, divorce, and custody), the economy (including employment, property, and credit), and the political sphere (including voting, jury service, and citizenship). Throughout the course, we will examine the relationship between legal rules and social conditions, and discuss how various groups have challenged these legal categories.

By the end of the course, students should be able to engage in critical reading, thinking, and writing; read and understand state and federal cases and statutes; explain how legal doctrines have changed over time; analyze the assumptions of courts and policy makers; understand and describe how legal categories affect (and are affected by) social constructions of gender; and explain how law operates in a social context.