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LSJ 490 B: Special Topics In Comparative Legal Institutions

Meeting Time: 
MW 2:30pm - 4:20pm
EEB 026
Erin Marie Adam

Syllabus Description:

Course Description: This course examines the US legal and governmental systems through a queer rights and politics perspective. This course will analyze the legal approaches taken by the LGBTQ movement on a variety of topics, including immigration, healthcare access, military inclusion, and inmate treatment in prisons, and explore how contemporary debates in queer and sexuality studies intersect with legal approaches pursued by the movement in the past and present. This is an interdisciplinary course that will examine key federal cases that delve into LGBTQ rights issues and engage in queer critiques of using legal avenues to accomplish social change.  Consequently, this course will explore the following questions: can the law be used effectively to accomplish social change in an LGBTQ context? How does the law shape and frame our understandings of identity? What are the limits of traditional legal approaches in movements for social change? How are some contemporary queer scholars creating community-based alternatives to traditional legal mechanisms for social change? What role does identity politics play in political and social life?



Readings: The readings for the course will be available as PDF files through electronic course reserves on the course’s Catalyst website. Some of the readings are excerpts from opinions written by Supreme Court justices and federal judges (i.e., excerpts of federal cases) while other readings are law review articles or book excerpts. Some of the excerpts come from constitutional law textbooks or from the course instructor. Using excerpts of cases makes court cases more readable and focuses the student’s attention on materials that are most relevant for course assignments. Students must read from the excerpts on the course reserve page rather than from some other source. If students read from another source, they may miss important information highlighted in the excerpts and will almost certainly be distracted by information that is not relevant to the course.


Web Resources: The website for this course is: The website has information about the course and links to assignments, the text of the PowerPoint slides used during lecture, and study questions. The course website provides the text of the PowerPoint slides used during lectures in order to help students take notes during lecture. The text provided on the website is not designed to be a substitute for lecture. Students are responsible for information that is made available during lecture even when that information is not available on the course website.


There are many law-related websites that you may find useful. There are also innumerable websites that provide bad or misleading information about law. Some useful sites are listed on the links page on the course website.


Grading: Grading for this course will be based on two exams, two written assignments, and in-class participation. Your final grade will be calculated based on the below percentages.


Case Brief:                              5% (Credit/No Credit)             Due In-Class January 20th

Class Quiz:                             20%                                         In-Class February 3rd

Written Assignment:               30%                                         Due In-Class March 2nd                

Final Exam:                             30%                                         March 15th, 2:30 to 4:30PM

Participation:                          15%

Catalog Description: 
Focused, comparative examination of legal institutions.
GE Requirements: 
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
Last updated: 
October 5, 2016 - 9:07pm