This seminar will explore the origins of American constitutionalism and law in the Anglo-American past and the arguments and achievements of the revolutionary period (roughly 1764-1789). Its six sessions will examine the ideology and organizational forms of the resistance to Britain, look closely at the first state constitutions (the world’s first written constitutions) and the issues they raised and to some extent resolved, then turn to the Articles of Confederation, the Federal Convention, the Constitution, state ratification debates, and the contributions of the First Federal Congress in fleshing out the new constitutional system. Although the assigned readings will include prominent secondary works, the seminar will focus on critical documents of the time including the resolutions of the Sons of Liberty (1766), state non-importation associations (1767-70), and the first and second Continental Congresses (especially between 1774 and 1776); Thomas Paine’s Common Sense and John Adams’s “Thoughts on Government” (1776); the first state constitutions, including those of Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, and Massachusetts; the Articles of Confederation; Madison’s “Notes of Debates” in the Federal Convention; the Constitution of the United States; selections from the state ratification debates; the Judiciary Act of 1789, and the twelve amendments to the Constitution that Congress recommended in September 1789 (of which ten were enacted and eventually became known as the “Bill of Rights”).Instructors are Pauline Maier, the William Rand Kenan, Jr., Professor of American History at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and R. B. Bernstein, Distinguished Adjunct Professor of Law New York Law School.
The seminar will meet on Friday afternoons, 3:00–5:00 p.m., February 17 and 24, March 2, 9, 16 and 23, at the New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, New York City.
The second Smith Seminar is "Equal Justice Under Law: The Enduring Legacy of The Warren Court, 1953-1969.” The ICH explains:
|Library of Congress|
This seminar will examine the Warren Court of the 1950s and 1960s, stressing politics, doctrine, and the strong judicial personalities of the period. Topics covered will include the Court’s transformative role in civil rights and civil liberties, the rights of the accused, the electoral process and access to the courts. The seminar will explore both the politics of the Warren Court and the Warren Court’s impact on the politics of the nation.The instructor is Stephen Wermiel, a Fellow in Law and Government at American University Washington College of Law. “An expert on the Supreme Court, he is co-author of the critically acclaimed biography, Justice Brennan: Liberal Champion and has written numerous articles about the Court. Before launching a twenty-year career teaching constitutional law and seminars on the Supreme Court, Professor Wermiel was the Supreme Court reporter for the Wall Street Journal for twelve years.”
The seminar will meet Thursday evenings, 6:00–8:00 p.m., February 9 and 23, March 1, 8, 22, and 29 in Room 415 of Burns Hall at The George Washington University Law School, 2000 H Street NW, Washington, DC 20052.
The application for both seminars is as follows:
The seminar is designed for graduate students and junior faculty in history, political science, law, and related disciplines. All participants will be expected to complete the assigned readings and participate in seminar discussions. Although the Institute cannot offer academic credit directly for the seminar, students may be able to earn graduate credit through their home departments by completing an independent research project in conjunction with the seminar. Please consult with your advisor and/or director of graduate studies about these possibilities. Space is limited, so applicants should send a copy of their c.v. and a short statement on how this seminar will be useful to them in their research, teaching, or professional development. Materials will be accepted only by email at MMarcus@nyhistory.org until January 15, 2012. Successful applicants will be notified soon thereafter. For further information, please contact Maeva Marcus at (202) 994-6562 or send an email to MMarcus@nyhistory.org.There is no tuition or other charge for this seminar, though participants will be expected to acquire the assigned books on their own.
Update: Syllabi for previous seminars appear on the ICH's page on the NYHS's website, more particularly, here.