American Consitutionalism: Historical and Cultural Roots of Our Founding Documents
Professor John Devlin LSU Law Center
The ideas that animate our national Constitution have their roots in, inter alia: classical ideas regarding the purposes and structure of government; medieval ideas of sovereignty and liberty; common law ideas of the rule of law and the respective roles of parliament and king; enlightenment ideas regarding natural law and natural rights; and the particular concerns and experiences of the North American colonists, both before and during the Revolution. Many of those basic ideas remain controversial today.
The purpose of this course is to explore the intellectual, historical and cultural contexts from which the ideas embodied in the U.S. Constitution arose. By pooling the knowledge of students with backgrounds in different areas – political science, economics, hard sciences, art, history, classics, literature, philosophy, etc. – we can gain insight into how and why those basic ideas developed as they did.