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American Legal History

Final Exam Questions - Spring 2002

 

Read the Instructions and then pick one of the questions on this page and answer it.

Your answers are due by 3 pm on 9 May.  You can drop them off as hard copies with my assistant, Janet Dowling-Best, or you can send your answers to her via e-mail.

 

Question One.  "Afrolantica"

Attend (or view the videotape) of the Afrolantica debate during the DU College of Law's Diversity Week.  Consider the arguments that the speakers make.  Are they right, wrong, or something in between?  Consider the application of their arguments to the subject material of this course.  Do the arguments have historical support?  Do the arguments distort history?  Do the arguments offer critical insight into history? 

(Please note that in answering this question, you can't ignore history.  Note, too, that you can combine this question with the next question if you'd like.)

Tuesday, 2 April

12pm - 1pm: A Hypothetical Discussion C185 or C189

Sponsored by Black Law Student Association (BLSA)

      Hypothetical: "If any race was given the opportunity to leave the U.S. to create a new society, would they?

Afrolantica arises in the ocean as an island on which only African Americans can survive. Would they emigrate and begin a new nation?

African American Advocates for Afrolantica supports emigration as the answer for African Americans, noting that the history of African Americans in American is an endless cycle of racial oppression that waxes and wanes under the influence of the political and economic needs of the nation's white majority.

The Keep the Faith Movement opposes emigration, maintaining that African Americans must not give up on their long equality struggle that transformed the Constitution from a document primarily protective of property and those who own it to a shield for the protection of individual rights.

If you were African American, would you emigrate? Given the history of your people in this country, would your people emigrate if there were an Afrolantica-like island where only they could survive?

Join DU BLSA in discussing "The Afrolantica Dilemma", based on a hypothetical by Professor Derrick Bell.

 

Question Two.  "Critical White Studies."

Pick up and read the packet of materials titled "Critical White Studies" from the Student Resource Center just to the left of Professor Chen's office door, F-133.  This packet includes selections from Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic, Critical White Studies:  Looking Behind the Mirror and also a chapter from RIchard Delgado, When Equality Ends:  Stories about Race and Resistance.

Consider the arguments that the authors make.  Are they right, wrong, or something in between?  Consider the application of their arguments to the subject material of this course.  Do the arguments have historical support?  Do the arguments distort history?  Do the arguments offer critical insight into history?

 

Question Three.  "Western Lawyers."

Pick up Gordon Morris Bakken, "Lawyers in the American West:  1890-1920," from the Student Resource Center just to the left of Professor Chen's office, F-133.

Read Bakken's essay and think critically about the history of lawyers in the American west.  What is the relationship between Bakken's essay and the documents, text, and lectures in the American Legal History course? How should either the American Legal History course change in response to Bakken's argument, or, conversely, in what ways does the course content show that Bakken is wrong?  Can you propose a synthesis or even a new approach that blends the approaches of Bakken and those you have heard and read in the American Legal History course?

 

Question Four.  "Inside/Outside"

An astute observer has noted that law forms lines that determine who is inside and outside "society."  That is to say, law plays an important role in determining who "counts" for particular purposes.  To what extent is this a helpful rubric in understanding the history of American law?  Does this view of history allow you to understand the history of both insiders and outsiders?  Is this view more useful with regard to one group or the other?  Or, is the whole idea wrong?

 

Comments:   
2009.  Thomas D. Russell
HouseofRussell.com
Last modified:  18 November 2009