Jul 14, 2024  
College Catalog 2023-2024 
    
College Catalog 2023-2024 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

WGSS 228 - The Law, Economy, and Family in the Anglo-American Tradition

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The meaning of “family” in North America changed significantly between 1600 and 1861, governed by the intersecting “many legalities” that included English common law and the multiple forms of dispute resolution practiced by indigenous, enslaved, and other European peoples. The emerging legal systems and economic structures shaped the lives of women and families while establishing the foundation for many of our current practices.  Drawing on case studies and microhistories, this course explores how laws defined women’s property rights, economic opportunity, public voice, reproduction, “race,” and conditions of freedom. We will also examine how individuals manipulated and circumvented legal, economic, and social expectations along with the limits to those forms of resistance. Readings focus on primary and secondary sources, and students will have the opportunity to explore a relevant topic of their own choosing in a guided research project. Building on the foundations constructed by historians of women and gender, this course examines how legal traditions, economic systems, and ideologies about families delineated opportunities for the region’s diverse inhabitants between the early stages of European colonization and the outbreak of the United States Civil War. Alternate years. (4 Credits)