Politics and Law

Many students begin to learn history through stories of the political past: presidents and kings, Congress and parliament, revolutions and wars. History courses at Yale cover all of these subjects in depth, from the imperial rule of Alexander the Great through the presidency of Barack Obama. But they also take a more expansive view of “politics and law,” exploring how a wide range of ideologies, institutional structures, social movements, and political cultures have shaped the global political past. How have different societies, in different moments, conceived of what it means to be a “citizen”? How have different political ideologies—communism, fascism, liberalism, conservatism—both emerged from and produced different political cultures in different regions of the world? How have ordinary people sought to challenge and influence the governing structures of their own societies, and how have governments in turn responded? How does the ground-level process of politics work?  What ideals, rhetoric, and rituals do people value? How do courts, government agencies, and political parties operate as social institutions? We cannot understand today’s headlines—from the revolutions and crackdowns in the Middle East, to the rise of China as a global power, to political gridlock in Washington—without knowing how they emerged out of political and legal conflicts in the past.
Faculty advisers: Jennifer Allen, Abbas Amanat, Sergei Antonov, Ned Blackhawk, Daniel Botsman, Rohit De, Carolyn Dean, Marcela Echeverri, Crystal Feimster, Joanne Freeman, Beverly Gage, Glenda Gilmore, Jay Gitlin, Denise Ho, Matthew Jacobson, Gilbert Joseph, Jennifer Klein, Noel Lenski, Daniel Magaziner, John Merriman, Isaac Nakhimovsky, Steven Pincus, Terence Renaud, Naomi Rogers, Edward Rugemer, Paul Sabin, Timothy Snyder, David Sorkin, Francesca Trivellato, Anders Winroth, John Witt
Sample Courses in this pathway:
HIST 115J, Civil Rights and Women’s Liberation, Crystal Feimster
HIST 119, The Civil War and Reconstruction Era, 1845-1877, David Blight
HIST 134, American Indian Law and Policy, Ned Blackhawk
HIST 136J, Liberalism and Conservatism in U.S. Politics, Beverly Gage
HIST 202, European Civilization, 1648-1945, John Merriman
HIST 210, The Early Middle Ages, 284-1000, Anders Winroth
HIST 264, Eastern Europe since 1914, Timothy Snyder
HIST 346, Making of Modern Iran, Abbas Amanat
HIST 346J, Africa After Colonialism, Daniel Magaziner
HIST 355, Colonial Latin America, Stuart Schwartz