This Theology & Law/Christian History course will be taught by Ethan Foster, and will run from January 8th through March 16th. The syllabus will be posted when available.
This course will introduce students to the philosophical and historical foundations of the American constitutional system. By emphasizing early American jurisprudence, this course will treat students to a survey of historic texts including Blackstone’s Commentaries, James Wilson’s Lectures on Law, and the first decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court. In the process, students will gain a deeper understanding of how early American lawyers used to think. Specifically, early American jurisprudence was characterized by an attentiveness to arguments sounding in natural law philosophy, history, and formal logic. Early American judging was similarly open-handed and almost experimental in its approach. Students who complete this course will therefore be equipped to read modern Supreme Court cases with a trained eye to what judges have found relevant over the past two hundred years and, most importantly, why. Students will be challenged to consider how the sources of legal reasoning and judicial methods at play reveal fundamental convictions about the nature of law and its source.
Ethan Foster holds a J.D. and an M.A. (in History) from the University of Virginia, where he won the law school’s Roger and Madeleine Traynor Prize for his M.A. Thesis, “James Wilson (1742-1798): America’s Forgotten Blackstone.” As a practicing attorney and legal historian, he has helped draft amicus briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court and presented papers on judicial philosophy. His research interests include jurisprudence, the intellectual history of the early American republic, and global legal history. Mr. Foster has clerked for three federal judges and has now settled into private practice at Parsons, Behle, & Latimer in his hometown of Reno, Nevada.
Online only, runs 10 weeks, meeting 2 hr./wk. via Zoom. Students will also have the option to participate in class discussion on the Davenant Common Room Discord server. Register to reserve your spot and schedule will be set after a poll of participating students; if the class time does not fit your schedule, you will be eligible for a full refund.
This is a graduate-level course. Although a BA is not a necessary pre-requisite for this course, students should come prepared to do graduate-level work.