Skip Course Information

Course Information

Instructor Info:Jennifer Hamilton
Office Extension x5677
TA Info:Preston Bruno
Term: 2012F
Meeting Info: Tuesday Thursday
02:00 PM - 03:20 PM Franklin Patterson Hall (FPH) 106
02:00 PM - 03:20 PM Franklin Patterson Hall (FPH) 106

This course is an introductory exploration of the ways law shapes our lives and how society and culture affect how we interpret and experience law. Using case studies and a range of theoretical and methodological tools, we will examine key cultural and technological challenges to contemporary political and legal structures, asking how law functions in a broader social context. In other words, this is not a traditional class in law, but rather an introduction to critical ideas and concepts in anthropology and other forms of social scientific investigation.


Most classes will begin with an introductory lecture that will lead into discussion.  Sometimes we will watch a film or work on an in-class assignment.  Throughout the course, we will also have different “Skill-Building Sessions” which will help you acquire new skills in writing, research, and presentation skills.

Course Objectives:

1      To introduce students to the social and cultural study of law.

2      To help students to build and improve skills in critical reading and writing.

3      To help students to build and improve skills in research.

4      To challenge students to develop new perspectives and to expand their skills of critical thinking.

5      To help students design and implement group-based projects.

If you are struggling with course materials or are experiencing other difficulties that interfere with course work, please get in touch with me immediately.  I can’t help you if I don’t know there’s a problem.

Evaluation Criteria:

Final evaluations will focus on the following areas:

  • Effort, especially willingness to challenge oneself
  • Attendance, preparation, and participation
  • Skills development especially in critical reading and writing
  • Quality of written work and attention to detail
  • Individual improvement throughout the semester
Additional Info:


  • Participation
  • Reading Notes/CRP Mapping
  • Moodle discussion posts
  • Critical Reaction Papers
  • Law and Neuroscience Group Project
  • Courtroom Drama Exercise
  • Self-Evaluation
  • Online Portfolio (all written work collected in one PDF)

All assignments must be uploaded electronically to Moodle.  I will not accept hard copy or emailed assignments.


Books are available for purchase in the Hampshire College Bookstore.  Readings that come from the books will be indicated by (T) for text. Texts (T) will also be available on reserve at the Johnson Library.  Unless otherwise indicated, other course readings are available for download on the course website and/or through direct online link.  Online readings will be marked by (O).  The syllabus is organized chronologically.  You should do the readings in advance of the class for which they are scheduled.


Required texts are available for purchase in the Hampshire College Bookstore.  Copies of required texts will also be made available on reserve in the Johnson Library and, if you prefer, you may make copies from reserve books.  Some texts may be available electronically through e-brary.  If so, the URLs are noted below and on Moodle.  Please remember that others may also be using the hard copies of texts, so return them to the library promptly.

Because the course is text-based, and we will often reference the text during the class period, it is imperative that you have either the text itself or a copy of the reading with you.  It is not sufficient to “read” the text online and come to class.  You must have the readings and your notes.  If you prefer, you may purchase the texts for e-readers like Kindle or Nook; I will look for evidence that you have read the text on your e-reader, so you must have it with you for class.  Texts, like tuition, room and board, are a part of the cost of college and are not optional.  If you are having trouble obtaining course texts for any reason, please speak to me as soon as possible in private.  The following texts are required for our course:

Haney-López, Ian

2006    White by Law: The Legal Construction of Race. New York: New York University Press. (T)

Kirkland, Anna R.

2008    Fat Rights: Dilemmas of Difference and Personhood. New York: New York University Press. (T)

Schweik, Susan M.

2009    The ugly laws: disability in public. New York: New York University Press. (T)


Please turn off all cell phones, Blackberries, pagers, and other distracting, ringing, singing, texting, non-course-related machines.

Laptops are allowed in class for presentations or for designated in-class research only.  You should be fully engaged during class lectures and discussions, and laptops are a serious distraction to the user and those around him or her.  I will allow exceptions to this rule only in cases of a documented learning difference or other extenuating circumstances.  If you require permission to use a laptop during class, please consult with me privately within the first two course periods.  If you are granted permission, you are expected to use the laptop for course purposes only.