LAW-2333 Race, Gender and the Law

Prof. Frank Rudy Cooper,

3 credits day; 3 credits evening.


Grading will consider class participation and a final essay.


This class explores how people’s racial, gender, and other identities influence how law is created, enforced, and experienced. Using case analyses and sociological essays, the class is an opportunity to think critically about the relationship between identity formation and the construction of legal meanings. We will consider emerging and controversial practices such as racial profiling, which is the law enforcement technique of targeting people with certain identities. The recent Henry Louis Gates arrest shows the degree of emotion generated by the intersection of law and identities. A premise of this course is that while our visible identity characteristics have no necessary effect on our personalities, they do have material effects on how we are treated. How we perform our race (signaled through our behavior, dress, etc.), be it majority or minority, and our gender, be it masculine or feminine, reflects how we think about ourselves but also influences how the law treats our claims. Sex orientation, class, ethnicity and other identities operate similarly. Indeed, the United States, as a country of immigrants, has long confronted (though not always successfully) these and related issues. Moreover, identities are multidimensional in that the intersection of, say, race and gender, creates a unique experience that differs from that of others of the same race but not the same gender, and vice versa. This course also explores the argument that identities are co-constituted with law. That is, we bring our pre-formed identities to our interpretations of and interactions with the law, but how the law treats us simultaneously influences how we understand our identities. In addition to showing how identities are multidimensional and co-constituted with law, this course will provide students with a rigorous writing experience that satisfies the school’s upper-level writing requirement. The course will train students in how to conduct research on topics merging law and identity, write an effective outline, turn an outline into a draft, present the draft for discussion, and edit the draft to create a polished paper.


pointer    Enrollment is limited: 20 

pointer    Elective Course

pointer    On List of Recommended Perspectives Courses

pointer    May Fulfill Legal Writing Requirement

pointer    Final Paper Required


<<Course Updated: March 28, 2016>>