Legal Studies 397D - Family Law
2:30 - 5:00
Professor Janet Rifkin
Legal Studies Department
219 Hampshire House
In this course, we will examine how conceptions and experiences of the family shape and are shaped by the legal system. We will address the way laws reinforce certain conceptions of the family even as they change families. One of our primary inquiries will be to examine whether families are helped or hurt by legal initiatives on their behalf, because virtually every important family law discussion engages, at some point, in a contradiction between using law to improve the way people live and a conviction that individuals or families should decide what is best in this most intimate area of human lives. It is this contradiction that will be at the heart of our investigations during this semester.
The materials will be organized around a number of themes. More specifically, the readings and class discussions will focus on the following cluster of questions, many of which are interrelated:
Family Matters: Readings
on Family Lives and the Law, Martha Minow, The New Press-New York.
Tender Mercies: Keith N. Richards, CWLA Press
Written Assignments and Evaluation:
You will be required to write a short, 1 page paper to be turned in before each class. These weekly papers will count as 1/3 of your grade. In addition, there will be a midterm and final worth 2/3 of your grade. The details of these will be clarified later on. Class participation is important. I am hoping that we will engage in interesting and lively discussions and I expect each of you to contribute. Participation, or the lack thereof, will serve to raise or lower your grade.
9/6- Introduction, What is a Family-
9/13- CLASS CANCELLED, Assignment: Paper 1
What is a Family? Family in the past and present: Hartog handout, Two Families Handout, Minow, pp. xiii-44, Paper 1 due in class- Paper 2 assigned
9/27 What constitutes parenthood? Minow, 45-141, Paper 2 due in class, Paper 3 assigned
10/4-Guest Speaker, readings TBA, Paper 3 due in class, Paper 4 assigned
10/11 - no class, Monday schedule
10/18 - Marriage, Minow, pp 141-185, handouts tba, Paper 4 due in class, Paper 5 assigned (Midterm)
10/25 - Midterm
11/1 - Read Tender Mercies, Paper 5 due in class, Paper 6 assigned
11/8 - Update: NO
Role of the State-Tender Mercies (entire book), Paper 6 due in class, Paper
There is an article on the New York Times website (http://www.nytimes.com/) I would like you to look at. It has bearing on Loving vs. Virginia. The New York Times is available online for free, but you must register. When you are able to access the site, search for the title ("Removing a Relic of the Old South") or the author (Somini Sengupta). I have the url for the article but it is only available if you have registered.
11/15 - Family Matters, pp. 187-282, Paper 6 due in class, Paper 7 assigned
11/22 - No class-Thanksgiving
11/29 - Paper 7 due in class ("Pick one article in the assigned readings on pp. 307-365 and write a 2 page paper explaining, very carefully, why you disagree with it."), Final Assignment given out
12/6 - Family Mediation, pp. 381-397 in Minow. Assignment 8 is "Do a web search on family mediation. Write up a 1 page summary of your findings including all relevant urls." If you chose Option 1 of final assignment, copies of article must given to me in time to be copied and distributed in this class, presentation due 12/13.
These are the urls you should read:
(ready on Friday, 12/8)
12/7 - Legal Studies talk, Goessman 64 at 7 p.m.
Erotic Peepzones and Internet Porn Laws: A presentation by Katrien Jacobs
Professor Jacobs of Emerson College will discuss how the global circulation of digital media art challengs the definitions of space, pornography and censorship legislation. Although Japan has strict cultural codes, it has produced some of the most explicit erotic film and video, in response to this repression. Professor Jacobs will look at Japanese erotic anime "hentai" as well as the work of Shu Lea Cheang. Clips will be shown
12/13 - In class presentations, Assignment 8 (see 12/6) due in class
Final, Option 1 requires reading to be copied for class 12/6. Option 2 due in my office by 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 20
updated December 6, 2000
by Amity Lee-Bradley